The Kharga Puja is a ceremony that uses a mandala drawn on a black cloth. The mandala is a circular design that functions as an abstract diagram of the cosmos. It usually has several concentric levels that include the elements, the realms of the spirit, and the levels of human consciousness or experience. The ceremony is a common ritual of healing and thanksgiving that represents an opportunity for a group of participants to release old wounds and heal relationships as it receives the blessings of healing from spirits. The ceremonial mandala becomes a safe container to contain the negative energies of the participants and a door through which they can receive healing.
The black fabric on which the mandala is created represents the Universe. Color absorbs and encapsulates negative emotions. This gives them a place to reside away from the participants, to the point where they are transmuted into harmless energy at the end of the ceremony.
At the beginning of the ceremony a mixture of seven raw beans is used as an offering in the mandala. Subsequently a symbolic key is drawn on the cloth, with finely ground corn flour mixed with powder of sacred red and yellow pigments- These represent the fire element, which symbolizes the cosmic forces of transformation, change and rebirth.
The three circles. The outer circle represents the Lower World, our body from the navel to the feet, our past and our birth in this life. The second circle represents the Middle World, the center of the body from the heart to the navel, the present time and our mortal condition. The inner ring represents the Upper World, the upper body above the heart, future time and our rebirth.
The four heads.They represent the four cardinal directions.
The four hands.They represent cross directions.
The center of the mandala. The nine interior spaces of the mandala are temporary homes for all useful spirits present at the ceremony. The central house is for the sun and is honored with a bright yellow flower and a candle.
The Offering Ceremony in the Mandala
Once the design of the mandala is completed, the leader communicates aloud the purpose of each step of the ceremony. After declaring the focus for each step, each participant places a handful of wheat on the surface of the mandala. The gesture is made full of gratitude for the goal achieved. The offers are in fact to give thanks for the work already completed. Our wounds and ailments are absorbed by the mandala and the offer confirms this.
There are nine rounds of offers that are made during the ceremony. The first seven offer opportunities to unleash physical, emotional, and spiritual illnesses. The last two are to offer gratitude and welcome healing. As they read each focus, participants come forward to offer grain to thank the spirits for the healing they are receiving.
- The first level of transference and healing. This is focused on internal physical organs such as heart, liver, kidneys, stomach, etc.
- The second level of transference and healing. This level focuses on external organs such as hair, nails, eyes ears and skin.
- The third level of transference and healing. This level is focused on interpersonal relationships within the family.
- The fourth level of transference and healing. The fourth focuses on healing relationships at work and in the community.
- The fifth level of transference and healing. This level focuses on bringing harmony and balance to the five elements that create our bodies and the universe. At this level it is possible to work on environmental allergies or sensitivities and food allergies.
- The sixth level of transference and healing. The sixth level is focused on recognizing and diluting the emotions of past trauma, memories, anger, fear, pain and suffering. This is an opportunity to free yourself from your identity as a victim or injured person.
- The seventh level of transference and healing. This level focuses on the realignment of planetary problems that could arise as problems of the body, mind, emotions or spirit. The Nepalese people believe that the cosmos can have an impact on our health and well-being. For this reason, attention is paid to sustain the balance between the inhabitants of the Earth and its surface.
- The eighth level of transference and healing. The eighth level focuses on offering gratitude and thanks to all the helpers, guides, ancestors, family, friends, and communities who support us. We recognize that without our ancestors we would not have life. Without our help and guidance, life would be a much more dangerous journey.
- The ninth level of transference and healing. The final level focuses on receiving blessings and grace. At this level, participants see that they are receiving healing energy from the Universe in the form of golden rays of light that enter their bodies and expand toward all that is. In this level of the ceremony the shaman sings songs of harmony, peace, tranquility and longevity.
Completing the mandala ritual
At the end of the ceremony, the corners of the cloth are gathered and the cloth is tied in a bundle with the grain held tight inside. In this form, the bassoot is traditionally transferred to a river that flows or near the flow of outgoing waters to the sea or ocean, and is stored in the water. It simply opens the loop and releases its contents into the flowing water.
When the whole thing is released, the participants thank eachheart for the protections of the spirits and for receiving a healing.