Devil Traps and other secrets from Lubra, Nepal

It was one of the coldest mornings when I was on my way back from Muktinath, Nepal. While sitting in the cab, I bid my friend goodbye and felt bad that I had to conclude my trip without visiting his village, Lubra. Right at that moment when I was talking to my Nepali friend, something inside nudged me and I exclaimed, “We are coming to Lubra tomorrow morning”. A voice inside me said that my Nepal trip will be incomplete without visiting Lubra and now I can say that it was damn right! Lubra is a Bon village that lies in the trans-Himalayan region of the Annapurna at an elevation of 3000 metres approximately. A detour from Muktinath or Jomson takes you there but it’s worth taking. The place is not accessible by road, so you have to reach there after a moderate trek along one of the tributaries of Kali Gandaki river.

 

Lubra, Nepal
Lubra Village in Lower Mustang, Nepal

 

Lubra is the last Bon village left in the Mustang region of Nepal. The legends say that Bon is a religion older than Buddhism and was practised in Tibet before the arrival of Buddhism. Lubra is a small settlement of over 20 families who practice Bon religion and this quaint little village is full of legend and history.

As I explored this cute village more, I came to know about two bizarre traditions. One, I noticed a gorgeous and colourful ‘something’ hanging above the door of every house. Second, one member of every family leaves everything to become a monk.

 

Devil trap in a house in Lubra
A devil trap hanging above a house in Lubra village of Nepal

 

Talking about the first tradition, I asked my friend and he told me that it is a ‘Devil Trap’. My first reaction was, “God! It is gorgeous. I want one for myself!” Anyhow, he told me that is a must for every house. Some houses keep more than one devil traps because the devil still lives in this village. He explained me more with the history of this place.

 

Devil Trap, Lubra
Another artsy ‘devil trap’

 

According to him, Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche (Lotus-born) came here in one of his travels and rid the place of demons who were ruling it. He fought with demons that lasted for days. In the end, demons gave up and agreed to do as he said. Padmasambhava planted a spell in this place so that the demon never rules this place again and from that spot, a walnut tree sprouted. He also meditated in the cave of Bon-po monastery of this village situated on top of the hill. This is presumed to be the only Bon monastery left in entire Nepal.

 

Lubra - walnut tree
This is the walnut tree that marks the victory of Padmasambhava over Bon demons – Standing tall since 12th century (As per the legends)

 

People of Lubra say that the demon still visits their village in the night so the ‘devil trap’ keeps him away from entering their houses. It is made during some special rites so it is a powerful devil dodger which according to me is an artful dodger instead.

I had the privilege to meet the Lama of the monastery and his wife. They served us Tibetan butter tea and blessed me by tying a red coloured thread around my wrist. Later, I soaked in the sun while sitting on an old wooden chair while the old Nepali woman was telling us stories about this place while making hanks of yarn of yak wool. The stories about the devil didn’t move me a bit from having the most peaceful sleep of my life in this place. The quiet that I found here is something I still yearn for!

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