GLOBAL VISION ASIA Vol. 1 incl. Rituals & Ceremonies DVD
Together with the international known documentary filmer Martin Thoma (BBC, ARTE, NOS, ARD, ZDF, etc.), Blue Flame is producing a DVD with picture images and sequences from Asia.
Suggestive images from the “top of the world” – Nepal, from India, Bali, Indonesia to the temple city of Angkor in Cambodia melt together with “World Ambient” and “Electronic Chill Out” music in 5.1 sound quality. The geographic regions are presented in separate selective topics. Optical highlights: exotic ceremonies from Kathmandu, ritual washings from the Ganges, Sadhus and priests, Buddhist monks, fire-dancers from Indonesia, painted elefants from Jaipur and canoe rides on lake Inle. A special menu on the DVD are 2 interviews with the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere about Buddhism.
The DVD booklet contains further information to the 10 sequences on the DVD. Asia Vol. 1 is a synthesis between music and far eastern culture, harmonic, bizar and exciting – in short: “World Chill” at its best.
Info to each sequence:
1. Between Heaven and Earth – Nepal
Sangri-La: the paradise between heaven and earth.This is where it should be, in the Land of thousand mountains, gods and legends. Nepal: there are probalby only a few countries left in the world, that have such a magical appeal, such as this last Hindu monarchy between the highest mountains of the Himayala.
It’s PHALGUN, the time of new moon day. As every year end of February, the Himayala-Metropolis Kathmandu is under the banner of “Shiva”, the bellicose god of the Hindus. The Nepal – Hindu moon calender dictates one of the most important feast on the roof of the world “SHIVATRI” – night of Shiva.
“Namaste” – welcome to Kathmandu.
2. Kali Gandaki – The Origin of all Things / Nepal
“The origin of all things, lies in the lap of the Mother”, is what all religious Hindus believe. Despite fights between the bearded “Brahmans” and the homeless, the “untouchables” this doctrin is an incontestable law for all – for the rag-picker in Delhi or the “desert rose” from Rajasthan. The “Mother” is always there, the Ganges. The holy river of all Hindus, is responsible for salvation and is said to be heavens gate to Nirvana.
Really heavenly is the tranquil place, that all believing Hindus should pilgrimage to atleast once in their life. The “Kali Gandaki”, one of the three river sources of the Ganges, is said to be the origin of all life. Unfortunately, the spring lies 1000 kilometers north-east of the national boundries, between the unapproachable mountain-clefts of the Himayala. Nevertheless, year after year at new moon thousands of pilgrims, from hungered mendicant friars and big-bellied merchants on sedan chairs, struggle through the mountain-passes, to finally reach the “land of promises” – completely with Sari and Turban to wade in the waters and heal the pains of the rough journey. The hope, to escape the circular course of life, death and reincarnation with a bath so far away from home, even makes the most hesitating natures step into the ice-cold water of the “Kali Gandaki”.
The chaos north-west of Nepal’s capitol Kathmandu lasts for an entire week: an exotic mix of road side food stalls, snake charmers, street musicians, temple worshippers and cunning crooks, that make their life time business in the six days off of good faithed travellers. Fakirs tumble around in trance by the banks of the river, mendicant friars bless children and tell fortunes against cash of light-hearted adults. Does it help – who knows! Atleast the water here is still clean.
3. The Ocean of Buddha
He was a prince over 2500 years ago, a bon-vivant. Married at the age of 16, surrounded by luxury: Siddharta Gautama – better known as Buddha. He died at the age of 45 as a famous philosopher, the “enlightend” one, without greed for love, power and success. His ashes, so the legend says, lie in Burma on the bottom of lake Inle.
“Life is not more than a bubble in the ocean”: there is probably no other place on earth, where this doctrine is more apparent, than in the quiet watters of the lake Inle. At this place of peace and tranquility live the fisher people Intha on 160 squarekilometer of water.
For the Intha, the lake is home and a nourisher in one. During the last 300 years, they came up with a very particular methode of fishing and moving across the water. They look like humans, dancing half pirouettes sliding across the water.
Over half the population of Yaunghwe, the largest and oldest settlement by the lake, are Buddhist monks: hermits and ascetics, Here, at the banks of the lake, live most of the 70.000 population of Intha: in a lake-dwelling village.
It is September, the time of the big “Phaung-Daw-U” festival. For 2 weeks, the sound of heavy copper-gongs echo in the markets along the lake – early signs for the Buddhistic Lent. For one last time everybody celebrates, just like Siddharta Gautama in his young years, then comes the time of contemplation. And Buddha is watching – from the bottom of the lake.
4. Kashi – The City of the Light / Varanasi – India
To take a bath in the Ganges, is the life time goal of every religious Hindu. If this happens in “Kashi”, the mystical place of the Light, then it’s like taking the express-lift out of the eternal circulation of reincarnation.
Varanasi, the ancient city by the Ganges, in know to be the “turntable between heaven and earth”, as the holy place of the Light, that every believer should have visited atleast once in his life.
Impressed by what he saw, Mark Twain wrote about the city: “It’s older than history, older than any tradition, yes even older than any legend.” Varanasi is “beginning and end”of the Hinduistic circulation of life. Old souls are being reincarnated for the last time. Anybody getting the corps burned here, is on the one way road to the Hinduistic Olymp of the Gods.
Sadhus, self-elected mendicant friars, decendents of Maharadshas and ceremonial masters belong to the daily picture of the city by the Ganges. Varanasi is the “mother of all rivers”. If Varanasi ceases to exist, so the legend says, then the gods will loose their power.
5. Fire Spirits / Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka – even to Marco Polo’s time, the early Serendip, later on Ceylon lay close to paradise.
On time, at fifteen minutes past six a.m. the sun goes up over the Indian ocean. Exactly twelve hours later – totally punctual – it goes down again over the restless waves, as if one of the thousand gods, spirits and demigods of the multi-religious island society Sri Lanka turned off the light.
That’s when the hour of the fire dancers start – the fire dancers of Kataragama, an ancient holy place that Hindus pilgrimage to, that celebrates every year in July and August the “Feast of the Fire” to honor their bellicose god “Skansa”. And nothing has changed about this tradition in the 2500 year old history of the tropical island.
6. Burning Souls / Bali
Once every 100 years, the earth must be redeemed from plagues and evil. That’s the belief of the inhabitants of the Indonesian island Bali, Hindus living in an islamic state. In Bali, the general belief is, that the world is in a force field between good and evil and as long as the powers between the heavens and earth are in balance with eachother, not much mischief will happen in the world.
Even today, ancient Hinduistic rituals are being practived in daily life of the Balinese people. They all believe in the reincarnation of the soul. The return of the soul, is according to Hinduistic belief, a very painful process, that is ment to be avoided. The burning of the dead are therefor celebrations of redemption in Bali; the soul of the dead is supposed to be freed from all earthly bondages. Some times, demons come to the place of the burnings and haunt around the dead. A reason why the firemounts are being moved around - this keeps even the most persistant demon at distance. Unfortunately it also irritates the dead soul so much, that it looses its orientation to find the path back to life.
7. The Nectar of the Gods / Haridwar – India
According to the legend, demons stole the holy nectar of immortality from the gods. During the battle between them, the KUMBH, the jar holding the nectar broke and the juice poured over 12 locations in the Universe, 8 in the heavens and 4 on earth. The four holy cities in India were thus born.
This is the background of the truly gigantic feast celebrated every three years: the Kumbh Mela. Millions of Hindus pilgrimage to India to one of the four holy places along the banks of the Ganges. No matter if in Varanasi, Prayag, Ujjain or this time Harodwar: the pilgrims know only one goal – a bath in the waters of the Ganges river. Everybody hopes, escape life’s circulation and find redemption in Nirvana, the eternity.
8. Pink City – The City of Fairy-Tales / Jaipur – India
It is said to be buried here – the legendary treasure – the gigantic jewel of the Maharadshas of Jaipur. Underneath the palace walls of the “Hawa Mahal”, the Palace of Winds, a poisonous snake is watching the jewel. Just a tinge of her deadly breath, carries anybody coming close, away into death. There are plenty of saga’s, myths and fairy-tales in the streets of the “Pink City”. Truth and legend go hand in hand as in no other place on earth.
In Jaipur, the capitol of the Northwest Indian state Rajasthan, the British Crown once ruled – and – Ganesh. The crown had to go, but the elefant-headed god stayed. Since ages, he is respected to have noble attributes such as: wisdom and being cunning, to have the right touch for love matters, bravery and endurance – “Om, I call upon the name Ganapatis, the satisfier of all offences”. The ancient Sanskrit word stands for the wish of most Hindus – the wish, to survive in the country full of uneasiness.
Besides belief, superstition rules the daily life of the Pink City. For February 3rd, 1962 atrologist from the city predicted the end of the world. Millions of Rupies were spent for butterfat and offerings. Obviously, the gods were appeased – the earth is still turning.
9. Temple of Angkor / Cambodia
Despite the Indian influence, architectsof the time developed their very own artistic constructions. In accordance to the Hinduistic beliefe, the complete temple area over 200 squar kilometer represented the universe as a microcosmos – with the king in the middle, representing the gods. The layout holds on to this concept, but the building vary. Innumerable towers rise up to the heavens and ancient legends are carved in the walls. Terraces and small paths make out a complex, hardly recognizable system in its self. Even at different times of the day, the buildings are reflected in shades of colors and mystic emission.
The temple of Angkor Wat wasn’t just a place of worship: it demonstrates the Indian conception of the world. The mountain Meru is the centre of the world and residence of the gods. Only high priests and kings were allowed to enter the temples. After the death of a king, that built one temple, it became his mausoleum. This tradition is part of the Devaraja cult, that shows the reigning king as a representative of the gods. In Angkor symbols of this tradtion are found all over temples.
It wasn’t until 1860, that the temple area was found by the French explorer Henri Mouhot. He describes the discovery as something more phenomenal than what he has seen in the antic cities of Greece and Rome.
10. Yischi Norbu – The Divine King / Dharamsala – India
He was borne in the “Land of the Light”. Only a few years later, he turns into a light and hope for this country. As a reincarnation of the patron saint from Tibet, now living in indian exil for over 40 years already: Tenzin Gyatso – the 14th Dalai Lama. As the worldly and holy leader of all exil Tibeteans had to leave Lhasa in 1959 to flee the Chinese army, the ancient prophicy of the first Lama came true: “When the metal bird will fly and horses roll in on wheels, then the Tibeteans will be scattered around the world like ants.”
“Yischi Norbu”, is what the Tibeteans call their leader – their divine king. Under his direction hundred thousand exil Tebeteans pilgrimage every year on March 10 to McLeod Ganji, to “little Lhasa”, a subburb of the north Indian city of Dharamsala. “Freedom for Tibet” is their cry and “Chinese get out of our country”. But like every year, the Lama calms the masses: “The principle of the teachings of Buddha is, to carry the burden of others. Without patience and tolerance you will loose yourself in aggression and hate. If we use this principle, then our enemies become our teachers. Only on him, can we practice patience and tolerance. So actually our enemy becomes out actual master.”
Tibet is a country, once a refuge of secret knowledge, in which material progress is subordinated under the spiritual developement and spiritual welfare. All of that must not disappear. There will be need for the vision of Tenzin Gyatso – the 14. Dalai Lama.