Losarrrrific! Chhaang!

Not being a Vjarayana practitioner myself (I suppose I am more of a side-line enthusiast.  Sort of like the fat kid that sits on the benches at a soccer game but is still always excited by being there even though he doesn’t get to kick the ball) I thought it would be apt to post a little something on Losar.

Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. On the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (a Tibetan cousin of beer). The second day of Losar is known as King’s Losar (gyalpo losar). Losar is traditionally preceded by the five day practice of Vajrakilaya. Although it often falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year (sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference), it is generally not thought to be culturally directly connected to that holiday. It is culturally more related to Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia than to the Chinese New Year festivity.

Wait a second…chhaang?  Tibetan cousin of beer?  Hmmmm….tell me more.

(from wikipedia ~ the true God) Chhaang is a relative of the more universally known beer. Barley, millet (finger-millet) or rice is used to brew the drink. Semi-fermented seeds of millet are served, stuffed in a barrel of bamboo called the Dhungro. Then boiling water is poured and sipped through a narrow bore bamboo pipe called the Pipsing.

Oh really?  I’m beginning to like the Vjarayana more and more.  Would there happen to be a recipe perhaps so that I can experience this fully?

INGREDIENTS

  • Rice (Got that!)
  • Laughter (Indeed!  Got that.)
  • Brewers Tibetan yeast (I think standard ale or wine yeast will surfice)
  • Merriment (This can be worked on…)

HOW TO

  1. Cook 5 kgs. Rice
  2. Spread cooked rice on large sheet
  3. Take off clothing and roll around on it (????)
  4. Wait till rice becomes room temp (I get the feeling I will be finding rice in some interesting places)
  5. Take 3 pieces of tibbo yeast and crush
  6. Spread evenly on the rice
  7. Close up cloth, make into bundle, and keep covered with blanket, to keep warm
  8. 24 hrs. Later wake up and smell the godly whiff
  9. Put fermenting rice into plastic bucket by hand (not the cloth too you drunk.)
  10. Leave if possible,for one month
  11. Open lid of tightly sealed bucket
  12. Take out as much mix as required
  13. Mix with cold water
  14. Strain
  15. Mix brown sugar according to taste
  16. Drink and proceed to hold conversation with tibetan gods.

That chhaang may explain this video from the Karma Tritana Dharmachakra temple of the Karma Kaygu Lineage.  It is loud and I do see something that resembles chai tea being poured.

Some education from the Kagyu Website

The Karma Kagyu Lineage is one of the four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very compete form of Buddhism, reflecting its origins in 8th – 12th century India at a time when all levels of Buddhism – hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana – were flourishing. Its speciality lies in the profound meditation techniques of mahamudra and the special yogic techniques of the six practices of Naropa used to speed up realisation of mahamudra. These quintessential teachings of Buddhism were gathered by an illustrious line of Indian patriarchs and then taken to Tibet by Marpa. Thereafter they were preserved through the various Kagyu lineages in Tibet and in particular by the extraordinary line of the Gyalwa Karmapas.

And running with the Vjara and Chhaang theme to Chogyam Trungpa

It is particularly year for us to develop sense of humor. Particularly it is year for [us to] express non-theism, and no doubt that it is year for further cheering up. It is year of experiencing interesting gap in our lives. Some people might feel that there is a sense of loss, confusion, and some people might experience year of making decisions of our lives. But we shouldn’t be afraid of those problems.

The reality, strangely enough, has four legs and it’s hairy [laughter]. Occasionally it has two wings. Sometimes it is ornamented with two horns. Life is not all that bad. It has enormous cheerful possibilities. Wherever you are, you will find great smile. One never knows who is smiling, or for that matter, what we are smiling for. In short, please make sure that there is no frivolity, and make your decisions [in] accordance with the practice of meditation, and with sense of humor. This is year of making decisions: economic, social, education, and so forth.

While Trungpa Rinpoche was discussing the Year of the Wood Rat (1984) and not the upcoming Year of the Iron Tiger, it still bears acknowledging that we need to laugh at our practice and experience a bit of mirth even at our own expense but not so much that it is at the expense of others.

Tashi Deleg!

John

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