09.08.2009 79 °F
Last Sunday, August 2, we spent the afternoon at Changlimithang National Stadium watching a friend of ours compete in the Yangphel archery tournament. The stadium houses tennis and squash courts, a soccer field, a cricket ground, 2 archery fields, and Bhutan’s Olympic headquarters. Events are free and open to everyone. That afternoon, an informal cricket match was in progress.
One thing that makes the archery matches here so fun to watch is the shouts and taunts one team will throw at the other. No need to remain quiet at all, even as an archer is taking aim. When the target is hit, a little victory song and dance are requisite, sometimes with a response by the other team. The songs and dances are tradional, hundreds of years old. This day at Changlimithang was pretty quiet, not much of a crowd, but here’s a little example:
The 39 day Yangphel archery tournament is the equivalent of a national championship. Hundreds of six man teams from all over the country participate in elimination heats, leading to quarter finals, semi-finals, etc., and at last the finals on Aug. 11. Best archer will win a car. Runners up and top teams will receive prizes ranging from refrigerators and microwave ovens to cash. Our friend’s team, Club Ace (below), is playing again Aug. 10, but are not yet guaranteed any prizes. We’ll have to go back Monday and see how they do.