Pilgrims at Mount Kailash and Manasarovar
The Tibetan term for pilgrimage is Nas Kor. The word "Nas"
means dwelling and "Kor" means "visit" or "encircle".
One of the main reasons pilgrims visit Mount Kailash and Manasarovar
is to build a connection with the sacred place. The pilgrims perform
their spiritual practices according to their religion. A common
practice of Buddhist and Bon pilgrims is to walk the 52 kilometers
around the sacred Mount Kailash and the holy Manasarovar Lake. This
walk is known as the “Kora” in Tibetan. Pilgrims believe
that a genuine practitioner is able to wash away all the negative
deeds of a lifetime by walking once around the sacred mountain and
the lake. Twelve Koras is understood as a set (Tib. Kor Tsed Cheg).
The 13th Kora traditionally takes the "inner route" (Tib.
Khagro Samglam). Nine sets of Koras add up to 108 koras. It is believed
that nine sets can secure Nirvana in a lifetime.
Bon and Buddhist practitioners look exactly the same. The one obvious
difference between the two faiths is that Bon pilgrims walk counter
clockwise whereas Buddhist pilgrims walk clockwise. They both walk
withspinning prayer wheels while counting rosaries.
In the Buddhist world, physical
gesture, verbal recitations, and mental concentrations are used
simultaneously to establish spiritual understanding and realization.
For example, walking around the sacred Mount Kailash, isn't just
a walk. Pilgrims use their physical hardship to remind themselves
what brought them to walk the sacred mountain. The pilgrims verbally
recite prayers, so they can hear themselves and feel it. They mentally
concentrate on their prayers and the reason why they are walking.
Every year, there are hundreds
of pilgrims who do full body length prostration (Tib. Kyang Cheg)
around the sacred Mount Kailash and the holy Manasarovar Lake. Prostration
is one of the many practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Prostration is
a way of expressing one’s respect to the spiritual superior
beings. "Cheg" is the Tibetan term for prostration. In
general, there are two ways to do a prostration. "Kyang Cheg"
means full body length prostration on the ground. "Kyum Cheng"
means bounded body prostration on the ground. Before lying on the
ground, the two hands must fold together as if they are sandwiching
something. Then, the hands are placed on the crown of the head,
which symbolize body. Secondly, the hands are placed by the mouth,
which symbolizes speech. Finally, the hands are placed at the center
of the heart, which symbolizes mind. All three together symbolize
showing respect physically, verbally and mentally.
Hindu practitioners take cold baths as part of their ritual. Every
year there are many groups of Hindu pilgrims who visit from India
and Nepal. They also walk around Kailash and Manasarovar, and among
Hindu practitioners some raise one of their hands in the air as
a sign of offering or practice. A few Hindu Sadus come to die at
the sacred the site, and some even cut off a finger to make an offering.