The dirt trail carved into the hillside was a challenge to negotiate, one slip I'd be a ball rolling down the hill. My destination was where volunteers scurried like ants around the base of a statue that had fallen on very hard times. There was one sole intention that day, bring beauty back to the sacred White Tara. The intense heat of the day did not help the dusty work; however, everyone was in high spirits as they set about to clear away years of neglect.
For those that live outside the borders of Baja there might have a misconception that the only religion in Mexico is Catholic. This is very far from the truth. The list is a long one and includes ancient Indigenous rituals like the Tamazcal. The brujos and curanderos still create their magic and healing skills. There are many Eastern traditions groups as well as Christian based religions. Add to this a thriving community of "new thought" such as practitioners of astrology and all manner of esoteric practice. So it is not as unusual as you might think having a Tibetan goddess overseeing the city of Ensenada. The work to bring life back to this ancient icon of love is an outstanding example of Baja's open hearted philosophy that all spiritual aspirations are welcomed here. In fact this became a cross cultural project with both Mexican and local American residents taking part.
Tara was at one time a human princess who dedicated her life to love and protection of all. She is an example of the soul's aspiration to develop qualities of love, compassion, wisdom and joy. White Tara is sometimes called the Mother of all Buddhas and she represents the motherly aspect of compassion. Her white color signifies purity, wisdom and truth. The sculpture was given to the city of Ensenada by Nepal by the Nepali Institute of International and cultural Exchange. The graffiti and vandalism of her form is considered by the City of Ensenada Park system a crime punishable by law. The area surrounding the statue was lovely park land with greenery and flowers. Tara was built on the present sight overlooking Ensenada and the Pacific. In the name of cultural exchange the people of Napal pronounced, "We are excited that this country, so full of culture and tradition, has allowed one of our most cherished artistic expressions to humbly mix with the tradition of this people...consider this statue as a reflection of the wisdom and compassion that Mexicans already have in their hearts strengthens their ability to protect all life forms, providing the path to happiness."
As the images will show, the damage from vandals was great. Hands and nose had been torn away, almost unthinkable. Graffiti covered her body and round her lay trash and dead plants. Erosion made the climb to the top dangerous. Sculptor L.Litch Arambula worked tirelessly on Tara's face to reconstruct in the finest detail her original beauty. The park area was cleared and recreated into a very special place to visit. From that hot dusty day the work continued through summer heat, high winds, cold winter and rains the volunteers worked tirelessly. Today White Tara sits silently above the city as a continuing expression of love and commitment to peace and beauty.
Directions: Avenida Lopez Mateos and Ruiz. Follow Ruiz east up the hill through old Ensenada. All intersecting streets are numbered. Turn left on 12th between Moctezuma and Obregon.
Salvemos a Tara La Salvadora is an open Facebook site and people are invited to see detailed pictures of Tara's completion. Five bottom photos courtesy of the Salvemos a Tara La Salvadora group.
Martina's email: mteomaya(at)gmail.com