The mani stones, chortens , kaanis play an integral role in the lifestyle of the Buddhist villagers who inhabit the highland villages in the Himalayas.Chances are you may come across these Buddhist landmarks on your Himalayan journey. These landmarks have a deep spiritual significance and are built to protect the people from evil forces and bring them closer to the creator.
Mani Wall: Mani walls are long walls made of stone carved with mantras.The main purpose of these mani walls is to ask the gods to look after travelers and to protect settlements.
Chorten: A chorten is a Buddhist religious monument also known as a stupa. They are erected to ward off evil spirits from places that are identified as thresholds (confluences, bridges , mountain passes etc) or to commemorate the visit or death of historic figures , lamas or relatives.
Maniloker: A maniloker is a cylindrical shaped prayer wheel made of wood and leather.Sacred mantras are inscribed on them , such as “Om Mani Padme Hum”.Manilokers are generally placed around the circumambulatory paths of mani walls.Individual larger prayer wheels called manitungyar are housed in local gumbas.
Kaanis: Kaanis (also called gateway chortens ) are placed at entry point of villages for travelers to walk through.
Lungta: Lungta(prayer flags and piles of stones) mark the top of the main passes . Together with mani walls, chortens , and kaanis, these structures protect settlements from bad and evil spirits.
(Resource: Great Himalayan Trail, ICIMOD)
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