Friday, April 30, 2010

April 25 – Last Day of the Festival, a Monastery, and More

We packed and left early to return to the festival grounds by 8:30 to catch the important event of the last day of the festival, the unfurling of the Throngdroel banner and the blessing of the crowd. Everybody was out in their finest clothes, used only on festival day for the event. We arrived in time and as we had the day before roamed the grounds looking for interesting photos.

The Throngdroel was hanging on the temple when we arrived shortly before 8:30, and the musicians were assembling their instruments. At 8:40, the ceremony started, the abbot and dignitaries facing the Throngdroel and gathering around the altar set up beneath it. They then moved to the other end of the festival space, donned ceremonial headgear and the music began. After this ceremony, the Throngdroel was taken down and furled up. The people then lined up to pass by the abbot by the altar near the temple to receive the blessing.

After the blessing there were several more dances and at noon the festival was over. We then left for Jakar in Bumthang where we checked in at The River Lodge, our hotel for two days and had lunch.
Actually there are two villages near each other, one called Jakar, and the other Chamkhar. It was unclear to me which was which, so I’ll refer to the area as Jakar.

After lunch we were free to select several sights in the Jakar area. James and I were with Namgay. Our first stop was the Kharchu Dartasang monastery, where 500 boys are training to be Buddhist monks. When we arrived they were in a common room reciting the scriptures before lunch. We saw them and were able to take pictures of the boys from the doorway of the large common room that they were in. There were three lamas at a table at the back wall opposite the doorway, leading the recitation. We were not allowed to take their picture, however,

We are learning the do’s and don’ts of visiting Buddhist temples as we have entered an average of two a day on our trip. Do take off your hat. Do take off your shoes. Don’t take pictures of the altar.

After the monastery, we visited the Then on to the Kurjey Lhakhang where we took pictures of some young boys playing in the yard and Namgay had the disciplinary lama pose for pictures in the doorway. I gave Namgay a copy of the picture, so that he could have it printed for the lama.

From there we went and walked up the main street of the village, taking pictures. The people of this village are also going to be moved a short distance away. We saw their new homes under construction on our drive to the monastery. Like the others, they will be concrete apartment blocks, with less character and charm than the houses they presently live in, but hopefully with safe water and a better infrastructure.

We returned to the River Lodge for dinner and our nightly guessing game as to how long the power would be off. The previous night a rain storm had shut down the power for some time. This night, the lodge was running on a generator, supplying lights and other low current items. It appears that a previous storm had caused a transformer to blow out. The power company was replacing it, and the replacement was scheduled to be completed at 9:00 PM. The power actually returned at 9:45.

With no lights after 8:00 and an early start to get to the Ura Festival the next day, I retired early. The next day was to be the second day of a festival in Ura.

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