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Day 115: Paro

Michael Palin - HimalayaIn front of the five-storey building that will be completely covered when the thongdrol is unfurled, a line of butter lamps is lit. The men wear khos, of course, but today they also have white scarves across their shoulders and some wear them over their heads, lending an incongruous touch of the mosque.

To the sound of drum and bell, monks in procession emerge onto the forecourt and, dividing into two lines at right angles to the building, sit on the ground while the abbot, in a gold silk robe, takes his place on a raised dais between them.

Once this glittering scene is settled, the thangka is rolled out, up from the ground to the roof. At its centre is the figure of Padmasambhava, 20 feet high, flanked by his two consorts. In a circle around him are depictions of his eight manifestations.

The pilgrims press forward and, one after the other, pass along the base of the thangka, touching it, saying a prayer, and, in some cases, covering their heads with it.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 115: Paro
  • Country/sea: Bhutan
  • Place: Paro
  • Book page no: 260

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