Holy Fairy Cakes!
By A Guides Of Bhutan Guest

 

Hike anywhere in the mountains of Bhutan and you will certainly chance upon clusters of hundreds, if not thousands of colourful cupcakes or tiny stupas.


MR GOB Guest

Tucked safely out of the weather in rock cracks, holy caves and even in the shelter of Buddha statues and shrines, these tiny treasures, or tsa-tsa, dot sacred sites throughout the kingdom from windswept mountain passes to remote riversides.

The name stupa derives from the Sanskrit word “heap” – an apt term for these mini monuments are moulded with clay and earth, the casting process having been handed down through generations from master to student, Lama to monk.

Often, monks are given a commitment to make 100,000 tsa-tsas of a particular buddha or deity during their lifetime. It is also said that the stupa represents the seated Buddha meditating and striving towards enlightenment, the pinnacle of Buddhism (the cherry on top indeed!).

F Stupas on rocks

Holy mantras written centuries ago by Buddhist masters are recited whilst tiny scrolls of prayers are inserted into each tsa-tsa. Through this ritual, ordinary earth is transformed and imbued with merciful powers to prevent disasters, cure illness, and provide atonement.

The Bhutanese and Tibetan people believe that the meditative process of making tsa-tsa is a way of both accumulating and bestowing merits and virtues.


“The Bhutanese and Tibetan people believe that the meditative process of making tsa-tsa is a way of both accumulating and bestowing merits and virtues.”

Tsa-tsa are often used as a way of honouring the deceased, with ash collected from the funeral pyre moulded by monks into mini memorials for those who have passed and as a reminder that nothing lasts forever. Bereaved families normally take 108 tsa-tsa and travel the land setting down a part of their loved one in beautiful and/or holy spots or places that were known to be special to them.

Ever since I learned about this enthralling and moving way to mark someone’s passing it has brought new meaning to my hikes. These days I wonder who that might be nestled in a crevice with their friends enjoying the view and wondered whether one of my fairy cakes might join them there one day.


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