Skip to main content

From Shamans to Climate Change to hot springs and knee-aches

There are many phenomena and concepts that I do not understand, even now I can only wonder. 

When I was in a primary school, I would go home on weekends and then almost always, I would find my mother suffering from one illness or other – from knee ache to headache to toothache. My mother would undergo a serious pain and this constant pain would make us even more painful. We only wished if we could share some of her pains. 

My grandmother would scoop out hot cinders from the hot hearth in a little tin container and then would start murmuring some mantras as the smoke from the burning maize flour rose in the air. “Sur sur” was all that I could hear her, her tightly closed lips. Inside we would see its immediate effect.

Sometimes the grandma would be out to look for the bonpo (the shaman). Sitting beside the sick, the bonpo would chant some more mantras his hands constantly at his rosary beads. All through this I would be watching everything, disbelieving the power of the shaman. 

“Away from here,” he would tell us. “Towards the northward direction, there is a dirty pond. It has to be cleaned in and out. Arrange some fresh milk and roasted wheat.” 

We knew which pond the shaman was referring to. I would accompany my father to clean the water while my grandmother would roast wheat and milk our cows. Then the bonpo would pour out milk and roasted wheat into the cloudy water and erect a small flag above the pond. How foolish it seemed to me then, as I watched the shaman talk to a being that we could not see? But it was always wonderful sight to see my mother get well and talk to us. On other days we had to locate a big boulder and as predicted by the bonpo’s divination we would find a pole studded near the rock. 

What resides in these ponds and boulders that ailed my mother? What did my mother’s knees have to do with dirty ponds and marshes? But my grandma always had the answers although little did she convince us. The world does not belong to us (people) alone, but it has to be shared by other formless beings such as lha, sen, klu et al. They are more in number than us. If we fail to heed their warning, a serious consequence even death, would befall us. 

However, I am still fascinated by the fact that our villagers have their own ways to deal with the way of the Nature. They learn to coexist with her believing in the unseen forces. For instance, villagers still believe that even a tree has its own guardian deity. It is believed that if people fell trees without the consent of the deities, serious misfortunes would befall on the person. So, one has to propitiate them in order to obtain the permission to cut down the trees. 

As soon as the tree falls down, my uncle would cut a small branch from a nearby tree and plant in place of the tree he has cut down. He believes that the deity would take shelter there before he moves elsewhere. Thus, people are discouraged from indiscriminant felling of trees. This philosophy should go a long way in combating the climate change.

Water as we know is an important aspect of livelihood. Today science recommends abundant water for proper functioning of our bodies. Besides, it is also home to countless creatures that form the ecosystem. Thus, it appears too logical to keep water sources clean. However, I still wonder how a knee-ache or a toothache can ever be connected to dirty ponds and marshes. Even more mysteriously fascinating was the power of hot springs. I remember one winter my mother went to Dunmang Tshachu (a hot spring in Zhemgang) and returned with a better knee condition. 

So, isn’t it amazing that the Mother Nature has almost every remedy for every ailment? We just have to live in harmony and adapt with other forces.

P.S:- This article appeared in JICA Alumni Association of Bhutan (JAAB) magazine, but written when I was a student


Popular posts from this blog

Utpal Academy - Bhutan's first All-girls High School

Welcome to Bhutan’s first all-girls school. Isn’t that wonderful news to all our parents? Certainly, as a parent of a one-year old daughter I am excited about the coming of a school exclusively dedicated to the needs of girls. Our girls need special treatment, which we can for sure entrust the responsibility to Utal Academy, Paro.
I really like the name – Utpal – in Buddhist world, Utpal is another name for lotus flower, which is believed to grow from mud and yet blossoms into a beautiful and majestic flower. It stands for purity and many deities are depicted holding flower Utpal, more prominently Jestusn Dolma, the Goddess Tara. Symbolically, it also stands for the transformation of our girls. What an apt name for the school!
The Principal’s message posted on the academy’s website promises providing our young women an “opportunity to participate fully in a wide range of extracurricular activities to develop skills and qualities that will lead to successful and fulfilling life.” That’s…

King Khesar is the People's King

He is a king who finds pleasure in combing every part of the country to meet his people and hear their plights. He is a king who treasures the nation’s young people and finds time to share golden moments with young graduates entering the job market. He is a king who goes out of his way to inspire our leaders with his invaluable wisdom. He is a king who is the first leader to console his people when natural disasters strike them and who takes time to share important news to his people. He is a perfect role model to the young people, a dutiful son, caring father, and a champion of “kindness, justice and equality”. Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the People’s King!

In his heart-warming coronation speech to the nation, His Majesty made the following promise, “Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as a good hum…

Bloggers are not journalists

To say bloggers are not journalists is to say oranges are not carrots. Bloggers are not journalists. That’s true. But can bloggers become journalists? Maybe. Can journalists be bloggers? Yes. In fact, it would be only proper and appropriate for journalists to blog their opinions as opposed to being 'politically' correct all the time. So why call oranges carrots when they are what they are?
Well, it is true – bloggers have no training in journalism. That’s why they are bloggers. And for the same reason they are  not journalists. No bloggers have ever claimed what they blog can qualify as ‘journalism’.  We all do what we love the most and give our best in whatever we are doing either reporting news or blogging. 

Journalists do it as careers. Bloggers do it (mostly) for hobby and out of passion. Most journalists also do it with great passion - that's true. The journalists get paid for doing their jobs while bloggers derive pleasure doing it. Journalists cover (report) stories eve…