University of Hong Kong
On March 8, 2018, Dr. Georgios Halkias delivered a lecture on “The Shitro Ceremony and Lay Tantric Buddhism in Amdo, Qinghai Province”.
Abstract: Professional practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism belong either to the ‘red sangha’ (dge ‘dun mar po) that includes celibate nuns and monks who wear the maroon robes, or the ‘white sangha’ (dge ‘dun dkar po), a lay community of male and female tantrists or ngakpa(sngags pa / sngags ma; Skt. māntrin). The latter are also known as those who wear the ‘white cloth’ and have uncut ‘braided hair’ (gos dkar lcang lo can), two distinctive markers of lay, and usually non-celibate, tantric practitioners. It would be fair to say, that the ngakpa of Rebkong in the north-eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai province, are well known in the Tibetan cultural world for comprising the largest community of householder tantric practitioners. In this presentation, I will briefly introduce the history of the Rebkong community of ngakpas that belong to the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, known as the Reb kong snangs mang (a group of tantrists from Rebkong), and share some audio-visual material and observations from my fieldwork participation in the ceremony of the ‘100 peaceful and wrathful deities,’ the Shitro (zhi khro), that took place in June 2017 at the village of Shakarlung in the district of Rebkong.