Pilgrim, Barkhor area, Lhasa, Tibet, 2007

For today’s post I have chosen to go back five years to 2007 and include a few photos from my trip to Tibet.
As I have written here before, Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet.   In Lhasa, the old quarter is known as the Barkhor, in the middle of which sits the Jokhang Temple, Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest place.  As with many places of pilgrimage in Tibet, the people walk in a circle around the sacred site (in a clockwise direction, I believe) to complete their devotions.
However, not everyone walks normally.  Some very devout Buddhists will prostrate themselves as they go, as can be seen in the photos here.  This man would stretch out full length on the ground, get up, clap the wooden boards in his hands together, step forward a body length, then stretch out and repeat the process again (and again, and again, and…).

I don’t know how many times he did this and how far he went, but I imagine that it was at least one full circuit around the temple.  Some people gave him donations to support him, as helping someone like this is considered to give the donor the merit for performing the act of devotion, too.  (As I recall, I made a small contribution, as well.)
The question is, how far did this man travel just to get to Lhasa?  Before my group reached Lhasa, we were in eastern Tibet.  Heading toward the capital, I remember seeing two men such as this walking to Lhasa doing the same thing as this man.  Stretch out, get up, walk a body length, then do it again and again until you reach your destination.  From the point where I saw them, it had to have taken weeks, if not months, to reach Lhasa that way.
That is what I call dedication.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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