Tibetan Ghau: Portable Shrines and Amulet Cases
In Tibetan Buddhism, a Tibetan Ghau, sometimes spelled as "Gau" or "Gao," is a small, portable shrine or amulet case used to safeguard and protect sacred items, relics, or written prayers. The word "ghau" in Tibetan means "carrying something valuable." These ornate containers, often crafted from wood, metal, or other materials, serve practical and spiritual purposes.
Attributes and Significance:
- Container for Sacred Objects: The primary function of a Tibetan Ghau is to house precious and sacred items within its enclosure. These artifacts can include miniature figurines of deities, revered relics, written mantras or prayers, and other spiritually significant objects.
- Protection: Owning or wearing a Ghau amulet is believed to protect the individual. Ghau lockets function as a form of amulet and are frequently worn as jewelry or affixed to clothing. Carrying a Ghau is thought to shield the wearer from adversities and negative energies.
- Devotional Tool: Ghau lockets serve as personal sacred items, often as focal points for meditation or prayer. They may contain miniature portraits of beloved deities or spiritual mentors, facilitating a deeper connection to one's faith.
- Pilgrimage & Travel: Many Buddhists carry a Ghau during pilgrimages or journeys. This allows them to remain connected to their spiritual practice and travel with blessings and protection.
- Symbolism and Design: Ghau lockets often feature symbolic motifs, deities, mantras, and other spiritual imagery. They are intricately crafted, with the exquisiteness of their design intended to evoke spiritual significance.
Contents of a Ghau:
The contents of a Tibetan Ghau can vary, depending on individual preferences and the purpose of the locket. Typical items found inside a Ghau may include:
Miniature statues or images of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, or other deities.
- Relics or blessed objects.
- Mantras, written prayers, or sacred scriptures.
- Semi-precious stones.
- Protective amulets.
- Ritual and Use:
For a newly acquired Ghau, Tibetan Buddhists often conduct a blessing or consecration ceremony. During this process, the locket is infused with spiritual energy and intentions for benefits and protection.
Individuals may wear or carry the Ghau as a pendant daily. The sacred items or images within the locket can be used for prayer or meditation whenever needed, helping individuals stay connected to their spiritual path and faith.
In summary, the Tibetan Ghau is a cherished and significant element of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, offering practical and spiritual benefits. Serving as a container for sacred objects, a source of protection, and a link to one's faith, it holds a special place in the hearts of many practitioners.