When sentiment clashes with common sense, something’s got to give
Environment : Part III September, 2009 – Bhutan’s verdant forests, whose coverage the Constitution mandates should not be less than 60 percent for all time to come, is under tremendous pressure from the soaring demand for prayer flags that dot the country’s hills and valleys.
Although no studies have been carried out on the impact on the forest by felling trees for flag posts, statistics with the department of forest show that thousands of trees are felled every year to meet this demand.Between June 2007 to 2008, Bhutan felled 60,178 trees, or about 165 trees every day, to meet the demand for poles, of which demand for flag posts is the highest. This excludes the 550 trees felled daily for other uses. Continue reading The prayer flag and the forest
By Samuel Jay Keyser: The “Takin” is Bhutan’s national animal. The mythology around its origin involves the “Divine Madman,” Lama Drukpa Kuenley. In the 15th century when he visited Bhutan, the people wanted to see him perform a miracle. He called for a cow and a goat for lunch. When he was finished, he placed the goat’s head on the cow’s body and commanded the amalgam to rise up and graze.
From an evolutionary point of view this makes the takin the newest creature on the face of the earth. Apparently, taxonomists are unable to relate the takin to any other creature and have given it its own classification, budorus taxicolor.
Bamboos dying in large numbers on the hills of Jarey gewog in Lhuentse worry villagers, who depend on the plant for roofing and other domestic purposes. About 150 houses in the gewog with 221 households have bamboo roofing, while others use bamboo to roof animal sheds and make products for domestic use.
“Most houses in the gewog have not changed their roofs over three years,” said a villager, Ugyenmo, 66. Normally, villagers redo their roofing once every two years. “The roof is leaking and my house is rotting but we can’t do anything. There’s no bamboo in the forest and we don’t have money to buy other types of roofing,” said Ugyenmo, who lives with her daughter and three grandchildren. She owns a big two-storied traditional house, but the roof has been he same for the last six years.
Villagers have started penetrating into deeper forests, but say there are not many bamboos around. “Whatever’s available is very far and difficult to transport,” said another villager. “We’ve started scaling the other side of Jarey hill in the hope of finding bamboos to re-roof our houses before monsoon sets in.” Continue reading Bamboo demise leaves Jarey roofs bereft
In the face of an explosion of modern games, thanks largely to cable TV, Bhutan’s traditional sports – despite the government’s pledge to promote them – are on the brink of extinction.
Traditional games, such as soksom, degor, jigdum and pungdo, are barely heard of, let alone played. The only ones surviving the onslaught of changing times are archery and khuru. Archery exists because there is a heavy dose of modernism in its equipment and status. People rarely play archery without imported bows and arrows these days. That way, observers say, the sport is becoming more modern and less Bhutanese. Continue reading Traditional sports – A pastime of the past
UPSCALE TRAIL – Lodge-based trekking routes will minimise litter at least
The tourism council of Bhutan (TCB) has identified two additional trekking routes in Wangduephodrang and Bumthang. The Dhur tshachu in Bumthang and Gangtey in Wangduephodrang, TCB said, would give tourists both natural and cultural visiting experience.
The trekking route to Dhur tshachu, starting from Dhur village, about 30 km from Chamkhar town, would take three days to the hotspring on foot. The whole area falls under the Wangchuck centennial park. The Gangtey trail starts from Gangtey and covers four villages (Phobjikha, Gogona, Khotakha and Rubisa).
The Dhur tshachu trail in Bumthang will benefit Dhur village, while the Gangtey trail in Wangduephodrang will benefit five villages (Gangtey, Phobjikha, Gogona, Khotakha and Rubisa). Continue reading Two new trekking routes
IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS – Coming to terms with a concept in their own ways
Canadian-American actor, Michael J Fox, is currently in the country shooting a documentary entitled, ‘Michael J Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist’. The documentary follows Fox as he travels the world in search of happiness and the reasons that make people happy.
They are in caves and beside lakes, on chortens and near lhakhangs. They are flat or conical. Sonam Rinchen finds out more about tshatshas.
Once seen on every conceivable ledge and crevice along footpaths and around religious sites, tshatshas have now become less known and rare.
Derived from Sanskrit, tshatsha literally means copy or image. A form of Buddhist idol worship, tshatshas are clay impressions cast from a mould with an image of a deity or a sacred symbol engraved into it.
Tshatshas are made to be put inside prayer wheels, statues, chortens and monasteries, or to be laid out in caves, on mountaintops and rooftops, or even to be worn as amulets. Buddhist practitioners say that in Bhutan, tshatsha’s meaning is limited and generally confined to cone-shaped images usually placed in caves and crevices. Continue reading The little Buddhas
The annual Punakha Tsechu begins today following a three day domche. The Punakha Domchoe ended yesterday with Norb Chu Sha Ne or the symbolic immersion of the sacred relic into the Mochu River.
Decked in colorful ghos and kiras, the people of Punakha and other nearby dzongkhags flocked to the Punakha Dzong to witness the final day of the Domchoe. The highlight of the final day of the three day Domchoe was the symbolic immersion of sacred relic into the river.
The ceremony brings to life a historical event which took place about 400 years ago. An invading Tibetan force had come to forcibly take back the sacred Ranjung Khasar Pani. The Zhabdrung hid the sacred relic in the sleeve of his robe and threw a fake one in the river. The Tibetan force believing that the relic has been lost for ever went back home. Continue reading Punakha Domchoe concludes
An interim rehabilitation centre will open next month while the proposal for the first fully equipped rehabilitation centre at Gidakom gets approved, say officials from the youth development fund (YDF) and Bhutan narcotics control agency (BNCA).
The one-year interim rehab centre will function in a rented house in Thimphu with 40 patients. A programme coordinator, an addiction expert and four counselors, who are presently undergoing training in India, will make up the staff. The rehab will be jointly run by YDF and BNCA. Continue reading Bhutan Government go-slow holds up rehab