October 25, 2020

A Cultural Mini-Documentary From The Himalayas

October 25, 2020.

Czech Vibes in Ladakh, Indian Himalayas.

While traveling abroad last year, Czech Vibes had the chance to film in Ladakh. For those who haven't heard of this place, it is a majestic land of mountain passes in northern India, of Jammu and Kashmir. Located between Tibet and Pakistan, it is considered to be one of the most remote lands on earth. Because of the snowfall and altitude, this once-independent Buddhist kingdom is inaccessible by road for six to eight months of the year. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet'' due to the strong Tibetan influence while the Ladakhi language is an archaic dialect of the Tibetan language.

Morning flight from New Delhi to Leh, Ladakh.

Monks sounding horns on the rooftop of the Thiksey Monastery. You can see the Indus river in the valley.

It was an honor to be able to get to know these proud people and capture bits of their life. During our visit to the Thiksey Monastery one morning, the monks were preparing the harvest ceremony and read about the cycles of life from their sacred books. Being able to witness a Buddhist ceremony was a moving experience, one that influenced me to build the narrative of the video upon the cycle of nature. It ended up being a perfect link to everything I managed to capture in Ladakh.

Monks preparing a harvest ceremony in the Thiksey Monastery.
An apprentice waiting for older monks to give him instructions during a harvest ceremony.

There are four chapters necessary to the story behind the video.

"To find enlightenment, strive to cultivate, to understand genesis and to be human."

The first one can be called "to find enlightenment" or "ཐར་པ།" which consists of the monks’ lives and their positions as mediators who bring people hope and wisdom in their journey to reach enlightenment and reincarnation. The second chapter of the video can be described as "strive to cultivate" or "སྐྱོང་བ།" which describes seeking the meaning of life, learning, working, creating, and trying to find meaning in suffering.

During the ceremony in the Thiksey Monastery.

A young dentist traveling across India to examine and repair kid's teeth. Filmed in the Spring Dales Public School in Mulbekh.

The third chapter refers to the gifts of earth and going back to its roots. "To understand Genesis" or "སྐྱེ་བ་ཐོག་མ།" is to understand the profound meaning of everything and our roots in nature, represented in the shots of the Ladakh landscape. The last chapter is about celebration: "To be human" or "མི་ལུས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ།" is to celebrate nature's gifts, harvest, culture, community, and emotions as the whole village gathers to celebrate the harvest and opening of the new little monastery.

Captured in Karakoram by Petr Jan Juracka during his K2 trip.

Weekend celebration, opening of a new monastery in Mulbekh.

I made friends with a freelance filmmaker from the village named Stanzin, and one night he invited us to have dinner with his family. His mother was a charismatic woman with a caring nature; for me it happened to be someone who I wanted to portray in the video more closely, to add a personal feeling to the video. She managed to assume the role with grace and appears throughout the entire video. After I returned home, I asked Stanzin to record his mother’s voice and a few more shots of her during other seasons that I wasn't able to capture.

At Stanzin's residency having dinner with his family

It was truly an eye-opening experience to meet Stanzin in Mulbekh, a small mountain village only reached by a seven-hour drive from the city of Leh. Thanks to the power of the internet, Stanzin taught himself the filmmaking craft and makes a living as a freelance videomaker. It made us realize again how connected we are as an internet generation, privileged enough to find almost any source of information by one or two clicks on a small box in your pocket. Do not take it for granted, we're more connected than you think! #internetgeneration

Emancipator 'Alligator (Good Lee Remix)

We were waiting for the right occasion to share this story, and we found it in Good Lee's remix of Emancipator's 'Alligator', a new song from the album “Mountain of Memory” released on Loci Records.

Good Lee’s music may ring a bell, as we’ve had the chance to present his music on our platform. He is a young emerging artist from the mountains of Austria, and is currently based in Vienna. He weaves together emotive melodies, intricate details with a passion for incorporating field recordings from different journeys and travels to all kinds of things in daily life. He mainly draws inspiration from emotional memories and moments. He got the opportunity to remix Emancipator's song from his new album "Mountain of Memory", one of the most recognizable artists in the downtempo genre.

We feel like it brought the desired emotions into the video and the way the remix is structured fit the mini-documentary style perfectly. It also reminded us of the sounds of the mountains and people from the Himalayas.

A monk reading sacred a Tibetian sermon.

A local oracle dancing during a weekend celebration. He commands deep respect among villagers. They come to him to ask for guidance when they feel down or need to deliberate upon an important life decision.

Young buddhist nuns singing during a weekend celebration in Mulbekh.

People in Ladakh face many challenges: natural, cultural, and political. As we could see the region through our own eyes and sparked a friendship with some of the local people, we can say that people of Ladakh inspired us in myriad ways. Their strong sense of community, Buddhist teachings, and connection to nature had a significant impact on us. We believe that exchanging energies, breaking the walls, and finding each other is the way to feel global closeness, to face the future, together.

"Go break the walls, to find each other and to feel together. We are nature."  - Czech Vibes Sound

We would like to thank “Brontosauri v Himalajich”, a Czech non-profit organisation that built a school in the Ladakhi village of Mulbekh and organized the trip for us to make this project possible.


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