Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Blessed Long Weekend

A three day weekend is a rare treat! I took a casual leave day Friday, and Saturday was a public holiday for Blessed Rainy Day. We have a special visitor here, Bob's mum, who is staying for three weeks. It was a great opportunity to take her to a local tsechu and look around nearby Chamkar.

We also spent a couple of days enjoying the company of two other BCF mothers from Australia who had travelled out to enjoy Bumthang. It was a pleasure to meet them, and the children delighted in all the attention. We all stayed Friday night at our home away from home - 'River Lodge' in Chamkar and as usual were treated with much kindness and generosity - a big thankyou!

I'd never even been to our local Dzong in Jakar and didn't realise how old (1649) and beautiful it was. We climbed hundreds of stairs from Chamkar to reach the Dzong which we have looked at from below so many times! I even found out there will be a tsechu held there in about 3 weeks time, and we'll even get a holiday to attend! Bumthang is a great place to live!

Thangbi Mani Tsechu
When we arrived, we stopped to look at the stalls selling jewellery and handicrafts. I asked Bob to buy me an early birthday present...
I'm all dressed up with my new necklace and a beautiful new handwoven kira that's deep green with purple designs woven in.
Monks entering the festival.
Entering the Lhakhang

The women were dressed in beautiful yellow and orange kiras. Their dances were the highlight for me.

Thangbi is a small local tsechu, everyone had a front row view.

I had not seen a monk dressed as the Buddha before.

During the afternoon downpour these ladies invited us inside for tea and snacks.

In the afternoon, the tsechu took a strange turn - the atsaras performed strange rituals with their phalluses. It was a bit too much.
Bags of ochre earth were thrown about, and nearly at me, but I ran away!

I was really shocked and dismayed to see this man cracking his leather whip at children who strayed within the perimeter of the stage. No verbal instruction or warning was given. To me it seemed so violent.
More unusual rituals. We decided it was time to go home.
Around Thangbi
During the lunch break we walked around this long 'mani' wall - so named for all the prayers painted on rocks that say 'Om Mani Padme Hum' - the Tibetan Buddhist prayer. 
Beyond the fields we could see down to the river.
Blessed Rainy Day
Blessed Rainy Day is an annual public holiday in Bhutan. It is believed all water from natural sources on this day has the power to purify karma. As is tradition, we filled a bucket the night before and left it outside with some flowers thrown in. At dawn we took turns to wash our face and hands in the now blessed water. Traditionally people bathe fully and in particular wash their hair, but I'm sorry, but its just too cold for me.

Jakar Dzong
At the entrance to Jakar Dzong - we walked all the way up from Chamkar.
Jakar Dzong is the main administrative centre of Bumthang and also houses a monastic body.
Around and about in Chamkar
Mmm! Mushroom pizza for lunch at the Bumthang Pizza Cafe.
Jakar Dzong high above town in the moody afternoon clouds.
Bumthang and Jakar will really come into its own in about 3 weeks time. The Jakar Dzong will host a Tsechu from about October 12th and following that Jambey Lhakang about 10-15 minutes drive from town will also host a tsechu, which I have heard is the most amazing of all from about October 17th. Meanwhile closer to home in the village of Prakar/Takar about 10 minutes drive from Chumey, a smaller local tsechu will be held at the same time. Definitely looking forward to all these events!


  1. beautiful, beautiful photos Andrea! the colour is lovely

    1. Thanks Al, I am trying hard with my photos, still just using my phone as its so easy. I know the quality is better with the camera, but I can be fast and ready at any moment with my phone!

  2. I discovered your blog just recently and have been reading it avidly. I absolutely love it!

    1. Thank you Eleni. It was a pleasure to write about our year in Bhutan but now we are home in Australia again I won't be writing so often. Please look through the old posts to learn more about Bhutan.

  3. I am already more than half way through. I have wanted to visit Bhutan for over a decade now, but only recently did I start reading blogs about this fascinating country. I only found out about BCF this past year, I had no idea! Now that I know teaching is an option, my husband and I want to come to Bhutan for a year or two, oh would that not be great! Anyway, thank you for taking the time to write this amazing blog, it is very inspiring and I admire your work :)

    1. Thank you, I hoped my blog would be a useful resource for people hoping to come to Bhutan. All the best with planning you r own trip, im sure you will love it. BCF are a wonderful organization and supported us the whole way.