Gods and Sacred Mountains | Animated Nature | The Worship of the Gods | Village Ritual

The Village Ritual

Once a year, or at least every second year, the protective deity of the village demands to be worshipped by the entire village community. At these ceremonies, each household has to be represented by at least one member. It is necessary that, while being worshipped, the mountain god sees that the entire village is united in harmony.



In the center of the event a shrine is positioned which has been errected for the god as his residence directly among the people. The ritual activities in the village temple also play an important role in many villages. Here again, the incorporation of ancient religious beliefs and practices into the belief system of monastic Buddhism is evident.

The participation in this ritual does not only require the physical presence of one person of every household, but also a contribution in the form of material gifts and a committment to work. During the often three-day long festival, a large ceremonial sacrifical cake (torma*) for the deities and also for the feeding of all of the participating Lamas, requires several kilos of rice, large amounts of butter and a variety of field fruits.

The continually growing influence of Buddhism also made a contribution of money necessary: the god also demanded meat. If formerly an animal was killed, so today meat is bought at the market. In order to be able to perform the ceremony on the communal land of the village, a hut has to be errected for the priest and a temporary altar, on which a torma* is set up. For this, every year, a different household is responsible.

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Ritual cake of a warrior (magtor), unfired clay, painted; height 38 centimeters; on loan from the Museum für Völkerkunde Wien
Clay replica of a ritual cake which was originally made out of dough. This object was created by a monk in Bumthang. It represents a belligerent deity, as he is used during the yearly ceremonies of worship. In the course of the ceremony, this figure serves as a body for the deity.

Every household has to be represented at the village ceremony by one person. In this case, it does not make a difference if a man or a woman participates.
Photograph by Christian Schicklgruber