A Travellerspoint blog

Thimphu Tsechu Day 3

By Becky

We've been having computer and internet problems, so here (only a bit late!) is the description of the the last day of the Thimphu Festival, on Sept. 30. Since then, it's gotten much cooler, only a light jacket is needed mornings and evenings.

I was a bit better prepared for the last day of Tsechu, with a scarf for the heat and a seat two rows up, which turned out still not to be high enough to see above the people passing by. In the first dance, the monks did not wear masks, but crown-like headdresses. Their performance included dramatic high leaps I hadn’t seen in any other of the dances.

The second dance seemed to be a reprise of the Lords of the Cremation grounds; it was the first part of the dance The Judgement of the Dead, which continued in stages throughout the morning between the other dances. The skeletons entered carrying a black "body" between them which stayed in the center of the dance ground all morning.

The third major dance of the day started out looking quite a bit like the Dance of the Terrifying deities, but is called Ging and Tsholing. The fierce-looking protectors of religion (the Tsholing) first consecrate the dancing ground. Then they are chased away by the Ging, escorts of Guru Rinpoche, wearing yellow skirts and tall flags on their heads over fanged masks. They first come out of the crowd and periodically return to tap people on the head with their drumsticks. Children rush down into the aisles and into the front rows to be tapped. Men carry small children and even adults bow down to be tapped. This drives out impurities. I found this to be the most thrilling of all the dances, perhaps because the movements of the Ging awere not scripted as in all the other dances, and because of their dramatic spinning leaps.

Again the heat was too much for me, and I missed the afternoon and closing dance, the Eight Manifestations of the Guru Rinpoche.

Posted by rsherry 00:34 Archived in Bhutan Tagged events Comments (2)

The Prime Minister and I

Just a short update on the progress of my Fulbright research in Bhutan. I am now in the final stage of my research on the policy and administration of Bhutan's landmark 2004 anti-tobacco law. The 2004 anti-tobacco law banned smoking in all public places and all sales of tobacco products. I have researched numerous original documents and have interviewed four government ministries on the anti-tobacco legislation. It is a very interesting story, I must say. Later this month, I will post a final monograph on Bhutan's anti-tobacco law on the Internet that will be at least 60 or 70 pages long entitled: Bhutan Tobacco Use Policymaking and Administration.

In addition, on November 4, 2009, I was honored to interview the Honorable Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan. The interview took place in the Prime Minister's august office in the National Assembly building in Thimphu. The interview primarily focused on the public policy of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. Included in this discussion was an in depth analysis of the origin, enactment, implementation, and measurement of Gross National Happiness including as it relates to various policy areas such as health. I plan on presenting in public forums, a detailed overview of the public policy of Gross National Happiness, when I return to the United States.

The Prime Minister also formally invited my Travellerspoint co-blogger and picture taker and my wife Rebecca Sherry, assistant research professor of botany and microbiology at the University of Oklahoma to discuss her research on global climate change. Global climate change is of particular concern to Bhutan as an environmental issue that is part of Gross National Happiness and as a security issue due to the significant melting of high altitude Himalaya glaciers that in two cases could cause significant flooding.

Background information on the Bhutan National Assembly can be found here: http://www.nab.gov.bt/. Various pictures related to the National Assembly Building can be found here: http://www.nab.gov.bt/photogallary.php

Posted by mgivel 21:49 Archived in Bhutan Tagged educational Comments (0)

Thimphu Tsechu Day 2

By Becky

sunny 85 °F

Mike and Noah decide to stay home this day; the dances do get kind of long.
I’m a bit late today and am relegated to sitting on the ground in front of the
concrete benches. It’s much more crowded today; the rows on the ground
eventually become five deep. Like the day before, people come and go all day.

The first dance today is the Lords of the Cremation Grounds. Four skeletons
guard the eight cremation grounds surrounding the cosmic mandala-shaped
home of the Tantric deities.

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After another folkdance, is the Dance of the Terrifying Deities. The masked
dancers represent Guru Rinpoche in his fiery thunderbolt form; they enclose
the evil spirits and kill them with daggers. Just watching this dance is
supposed to enlighten all sentient beings.

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It is unseasonably hot. Most people have put their ceremonial scarves on their
heads instead of over their shoulders. Another dance begins, but the heat is
too much for me. My nose and lips had gotten sunburned the day before, so
I head home about noon.

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For more pictures of day 2 of the Thimphu festival, see: http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/users/rsherry/

Posted by rsherry 02:37 Archived in Bhutan Tagged events Comments (0)

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