For the first time in three years, the Musa Masala team was back together. Arriving at the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital Tapting at the end of April, we had come to paint the pediatric room in honor of our friend, Dr. Jennifer Konopka. Jen had been a powerful force in Musa Masala and a big supporter of the hospital project.
We had an ambitious idea to paint the room in the theme of our book, Musa Masala: Mountain Girl of the Himalaya. While our amazing group of painters, Shyam, Rudra and Xindoma, worked to prepare the room for two days before our arrival, we held a Puja ceremony in honor of our friends who were not able to see the finished hospital open to the public.
Thanks to Lakpa Sherpa, we were able to hold the Puja at the nearby Khamding Monastery. It is a short walk from the hospital and a beautiful place.
Puja is a name given to a variety of offering and blessing ceremonies given in the Buddhist tradition. The Sanskrit word means “honor, reverence, homage, adoration, and worship.” We wanted to honor our friends, Paul Auerbach, Gary McLean, Megan Rand and Jennifer Konopka. We also wished to honor the memory of the late Wongchhu Sherpa, whose dream became a reality when the hospital opened under the direction of his daughter, Lakpa Sherpa.
Photos of our friends were brought to the center of the room. Butter lamps illuminated the frames and they were surrounded by Khatas. The moving two-hour ceremony gave us the chance to stop everything and just remember our friends—all who would have loved to have been there to take in the beauty of the chants, horns and cymbals and the Lamas’ prayers. The hardest part was actually feeling them there, knowing it would have been a special day for them to be a part of. We hope this keeps their spirits and powers with us always.
The framed photos will be mailed to the families as our way of showing our never ending love for our friends. We would like to thank everyone at the Khamding Monastery who allowed us to film the Puja and who took the time to help us remember and celebrate.
We have so much to cover from our reunion visit to Nepal. We thought this was a fitting place to start.
For Wongchhu, Jennifer, Gary, Paul and Megan.