Puja Ceremony at Everest Base Camp

Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues,

Another blue-bird day dawned today here at Everest base camp. Today, we had the second of our Pujas. The first was in Pangboche with the local Lama.

However, it is important to have a Puja ceremony in base camp. The porters and Sherpas will refuse to climb the mountain unless a Puja is held. The mountains and their gods are sacred. The Puja allows those who wish to climb the sacred peaks of the Himalayas an opportunity to provide offerings to the mountain gods and prayers for safe passage. The prayers are given on behalf of the group by the Lama and focus on the five elements of Fire, Sky, Water, Earth and Sun which all contributed in the formation of Chomolongma, or Mt. Everest. This appeases the gods so that they will recognize us on the mountain and allow us safe passage.

You can see from the photos that each team member also puts an important piece of personal climbing gear at the altar to be blessed during the ceremony. There are also offerings such as candy, chocolate, fruit, whiskey, beer and chompu cake, a special Nepalese cake of ground barley, sugar and butter, important in ceremonies such as these.

One of the final acts was to raise the prayer flags that spread out over our camp, and will continue to flutter in the wind for the duration of our stay on the mountain. Each coloured flag represents one of the five elements and signifies to the Mountain Goddess Chomolongma, that we climb as mere mortals and with great respect for the mountain.

Tomorrow we hope to have our medical tent up, and to begin our third series of data collection on the effects of altitude on acclimatization.

More tomorrow…

Christian Otto