I AM NOT SCARED OF THE NIGHT


‘In the midst of the sun rays, a costumed bompo I am not. In the midst of the moon rays, I have dressed. When all breathing, moving beings sleep, when the sun sleeps, I dress as a bompo. Come take my bompo’s body. Come take a golden horse. Come take a silver horse. By the sky trail let’s fly. Bompo’s chant in David H. Holmberg “Order in Paradox”

I AM NOT SCARED OF THE NIGHT presents shamanistic rituals from Nepal. Syafrubesi is a village situated just 13 kilometers from the Chinese border, on a start of the popular trekking routes to Gosaikunda and Lantang. It is an area packed with culture, which may not be immediately visible to passers-by.

Fortunate to be able to experience a close relationship with the Bompos or Jhankris (shamans) who congregate in Syafrubesi, which is considered a spiritual focal point for the Bompo, Martushka Fromeast was privileged to witness various shamanic rituals special healing procedures, pujas to remove obstacles and exorcisms. This documentary work highlights the importance of the Bompo rituals in their everyday life.


Risowangdi fights with something only he sees. He puts rice onto a drum and blows it away, then starts to cry and talk, using English, Hindi and Tamang words. He was asked by one of the attendant of the annual pilgrimage during Janai Purima holiday to pray for the well being of one of the adults. Risowangdi is one of the shamans of Shybarubesi. He belongs to a tribe of Tibetan origin called Tamangs. The name Tamang has two meanings: ‘TA’-horse and ‘MANG’ –warriors/combatants. Tamangs used to be horse-riding warriors and came to Nepal from northern Tibet. Risowangdi was trained to become a shaman by his older brother. He has been practicing as a Bompo (shaman) for the last 13 years. Before becoming a shaman he served in the army. Risowangdi's father was also a Bompo, but he divorced Risowangdi's mother for another woman. Risowangdi married for love at the age of 17 and is a very proud father of three sons.
Shamans go to villages situated higher in the mountains on both sides of the border with Nepal and China (Tibet). 
Power (called sakhti in Nepali) is the source of a shaman’s fame.

Drinking alcohol is an important part of all rituals, which act as social events during which men and women meet. 
Drinking is also important during the annual pilgrimage during Janai Purima holiday. It is used as an offering to the Gods.
Shaman Risowangdi beats a sick man with fire. Just before that, he had also beaten the man with branches of holy bush dipped in boiling wanter. The shaman filled the water with mantra (a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer) that are supposed to help get rid of the illness. Local people from Shyabrubesi still go to shaman to get help. Shamans make their own traditional Ayervedic drugs (a type of alternative medicine that originated in India) to treat diseases and perform exorcisms to help the soul.
Policemen in Shyabrubesi killed the mouflon to celebrate Dashain, the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar. The men cut its head with an axe. After that, they dragged its body around a table three times where five beautifully decorated guns were placed. Sacrificing animals is popular among local people. Most shamans sacrifice chickens but some of them are against animal sacrifices
A young shaman is washing his face with holy water in Langshica kharka. Shaman Risowangdi, who is more powerful than him, sent him a mantra that made his nose bleed. 7 shamans from 3 different casts were doing the annual pilgrimage together. They were followed by the local residents who were singing, dancing and drinking. The shamans were competing to prove their power. However, shamans belonging to different casts cannot run ceremonies, dance nor pray together. Their mantras do not go together. Mantras are a source of Shakti (power).
Shaman Risowangdi during a pudja ceremony on an 84 years-old woman who, according to him, lost her heart. 
The shaman stayed at her house all night and sacrificed a chicken and was finally able to catch the evil spirit.
It is very important to get rid of bad spirits. Their symbols are burned outside the village each time a pudja is performed in someone’s house. 
Each pudja starts with preparing Tormas (figures made of dough) and Tsompa (barley flour balls), symbolizing gods and devils.

Shaman Risowangdi pierces his cheeks with a needle to prove his powers. “Do you believe me now? 
I can lick red hot iron, I can change a piece of wood into cobra”, he claims. He also says that sometimes, during trance, spirits enter his body.
According to local beliefs, Langtang is a "hidden valley", where Guru Rinpoche used to meditate. He is considered to be the ‘first shaman’.
Risowangdi has three sons to whom he teaches shamanism.






























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