Element water – source of life.

Rituals, myths, and tradition in a Buddhist society in the Himalaya. Postdoctoral Project, LMU Munich.

October, 2018 - September 2019

Water is provider of life, therefore, it is not surprising that some of the many lakes, hot springs and waterfalls are considered as sacred Buddhist places in Sikkim and are even under special protection.

Sikkim is a Buddhist influenced Indian state in the Himalaya, and is part of the so-called Tibetan cultural area. The aim of this project is an approach to different aspects around the topic of water in Sikkim and thus to shed light on the meaning and impact of water in a Buddhist society in which nature, religion and culture are intimately linked. To reach this goal, Tibetan and Sikkimese primary sources will be translated, which illuminate water in various facets from a religious and cultural point of view.

Particular attention will be paid to the meaning of sacred hot springs and every-day rituals concerning water spirits (klu) that have influence on the inhabitants, its land, political entanglements as well as on social life.

Sponsored by the Bavarian Gender Equality Grant (BGF) and the women’s representative Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich.

  • 2024: Religious Connections, Economic Obstacles and Personal Fates: Contextualizing the Roles of Bridges in Sikkim (Himalayas), in Traditional Neighbors, Different Modernities: Bhutan, Sikkim and the Mon Region, ed. by Seiji Kumagai, Miguel Álvarez Ortega, Anna Balikci-Denjonpa and Françoise Pommaret, Trans Pacific Press.
  • 2021: Provider and Destroyer of Life: Legendary and Historical Buddhist Perspectives on Water and Its Socio-Cultural Significance in Sikkim, Bulletin of Tibetology 52 (1), pp. 59-74.
  • 2021: Better than any Doctor. Buddhist Perspectives on Hot Springs in Sikkim, Himalayas. Etnološka tribina, 51 (44), pp. 54-70, DOI 10.15378/1848-9540.2021.44.03.
  • 07/2019: Provider and Destroyer of Life: Rituals, Myths, and Significance of Water in Sikkim, a Tibetan influenced Indian state in the Himalaya, Paris, Fifteenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS).
  • 06/2019: Cultural and religious significance of hot springs in Buddhist influenced societies in the Himalayas, University College Cork, conference “Religion, Water, Climate: Changing Cultures and Landscapes”, International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC).