Monday, October 17, 2011
Bumthang, Tsechu and The Royal Wedding... oh my! (part 2)
We got back to Thimphu sort of late Friday night (due to our bus breaking down half way back and the drivers and men on the bus having to replace a tire in pouring down rain.) The next morning we would be able to go into town for Thimphu Tsechu which is the most famous festival in Bhutan.
Aaron, Nurit and I had a great plan of having lunch first at my Bhutanese friend Sippy's house and then going with her to Tsechu. We got there and the best way to describe the festival is an explosion of color. Everyone is in their nicest Kira and Gho (the national dress) and there are more people than you can imagine. I would recommend googling Thimphu Tsechu for some professional pictures of it because it is incredible.
I especially loved the masked dances by the monks which tell important stories from the history of Bhutan and Buddhism. Also, as any good festival should have, there are the Bhutanese versions of "clowns." These are people dressed up as either the person of or representations of Drukpa Kunley aka the Divine Madman who is most famous for having fought off spirits with his enormous... phallus. One of them actually had earrings shaped for the part.
After the Tsechu I met up with my friend Hilary who is working here in Thimphu and we went to a talk by Matheu Ricard, a famous scientist/buddhist monk, an influential neuroscientist studying the effects of meditation on the brain, and the environmental scientist who co-won the nobel peace prize with Al Gore. Overall, it was interesting but I was quite disappointed with the lack of knowledge the speakers (mostly the two scientists other than Ricard) had on Bhutan. I mean, really, if you're a nobel prize winner I would expect you to know that the country you are speaking in is not pronounced “Boo-Tan”
Hilary and I then got to jam with my guitar and make some food before going out in Thimphu with some friends. It was a great end to our mid-term break... or so we thought. After our weekly Dzongkha classs Monday morning we discovered that our Eastern Political Thought professor had decided that the 3 days we would have classes that week (given that we were off Thursday and Friday for the wedding) would be better spent on vacation in India so he did not show up to class all week giving those of us in his class extra vacation.