11 April 2008: Puja Ceremony, The Puja is a very happy occasion...
Morning tea was delivered early as our Puja was starting before the sun hit the camp. The Sherpas had built a stone alter in the middle of camp and had placed climbing gear to be blessed on one side and offerings of food and drink and a picture of the Buddha on the main side facing the Lama who performed our ceremony.
The Lama read prayers and threw rice. The Puja is a very happy occasion and Sherpas and climbers from nearby camps come to participate along with us. We noticed that the Puja’s we saw varied in length and activities depending on the Lama performing the ceremony. After the prayers were read and blessings given, prayer flags were radiated out from a pole on the alter in five directions. Now we see many prayer flags spread throughout the entire Base Camp as many Pujas have been completed.
Once the prayer portion of the ceremony was done, tsampa (like flour) was good naturedly applied to everyone’s face and then the eating and drinking part began. A large bucket of chang disappeared along with beer, Sherpa cake, cookies and other treats. A lot of work went into preparing the festivities and then cleaning it all up again. Possibly due to the chang, the camp was very quiet all afternoon.
One or two groups headed up into the Ice Fall during the day and others played on some small ice faces nearby. Our beautiful sunny morning turned to clouds and some light snowfall. Dick is laying out his gear and eagerly anticipating heading into the Ice Fall tomorrow.