Buddhamania

The altitude here has not been affecting Debbie as much as it did in Tibet.  A slight headache for a day and the adjustment was complete.  Practicing in India was a good idea.  We traveled high then slept low, then high then low and even in Bhutan, we are sleeping lower than our highest travel points.  It seems to be working.

The local festival took up the bulk of our day. The dancing and entertainment, of course, with religious overtones, goes on all day, for days.  Everyone gets dressed in their finest and off to the fair.  All the kids get spending money and buy junk.  Sound familiar? I’m still working on why Buddhist kids get to buy guns.

Most of the people are gathered in the monastery courtyard watching the dances.  They come and go but spend the better part of the day watching the drama these dance portray that is repeated year after year.  The kids haven’t seen them too often but the adults still stand and watch.  I’m not sure if it is a religious obligation. I think it’s more of a social get together on a holiday.

Lunch today was picnic style.  Tashi ordered a picnic lunch from the hotel and we joined the locals and a few cows in a small orchard adjacent to the monastery to eat Bhutan festival style.  Noodles, beef, vegetables, chilies with cheese, potatoes and the customary rice. It was the first time I tried chilies with cheese as a standalone dish.  It wasn’t as scary as the anticipation.  They were hot but my mouth has burned worse after eating other foods.  I justified it by believing at the very least it would be good for the digestive system.  I’m quite sure the chilies and cheese dish will not become one of my staples.

As the Buddhist religion is the center point of life here, it would figure there are a lot of temple type places, monasteries, dzongs, and the like on our agenda.  Tashi, our guide, is making the visits much more interesting than church visits we have done in the past.  He was a monk from the age of 7 to about 15, so he knows the ins and outs of the monastery.  Today’s dzong in Jakar was almost deserted as the majority of the monks were off preforming at a festival in another valley.  Tashi located the big horns the monks use and showed us how to play them.  R and I had a try.  R was pretty good and I managed to get a sound, but nowhere near the deep resonant sound that is typically made by the monks. Tashi does spend time explaining about past Buddha and the reincarnation of the 2nd something or other such things, but for a good part of our visits he acts as a go between, between us and the monks.

There are only 700,000 people in the country and for the most part it is driven by Buddhism.  Whether it be hardcore dedicate your life to the religion, vis a vis become a monk, or if it’s the yearly take a few days off and let your hair down, the people’s lives all revolve around their spiritual beliefs.  The entire country seems to move as one.

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