Tsa Tsa’s

Photo of Tsa Tsa on a Stupa in Bhutan

Photo of Tsa Tsa on a Stupa in Bhutan

Tsa tsa are memorials to the dead, molded by monks, that are created from ash collected from funereal cremation pyres. They are considered sacred objects and molded in special religious ceremonies. As soon we arrived in Bhutan, I started noticing all the tsa tsas, the curious small cylindrical cone shaped objects on stupas, under overhangs of rock and alongside many roadways. Any sacred or remotely scenic place that was at least partially sheltered from the elements seemed to have hundreds, if not thousands of these three-inch high sculptures. Some were painted gold, others were painted red, but mostly they were either white or natural earth tone. I was fascinated by them and ask Norbu, our guide, what we were seeing he explained the significance of a tsa tsa.

Tsa Tsa Hidden in a Cave in Bhutan

Photo of Tsa Tsa Hidden in a Cave in Bhutan

He explained that the artifacts, usually 108 of them (a sacred number in ancient Hinduism and carried forward into Buddhism), are commissioned by bereaved Buddhist families as a way of honoring and bidding farewell to their loved ones. After they are created the memorials are given to the families to be placed in sacred places, beautiful places or places that were special to the departed loved one.

I think this would be a fitting memorial for me after I retire permanently.

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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