Appeasing One’s Protective Deities

“Bhutanese families believe in the power of these deities to affect the welfare of human. They are located in or associated with certain power spots or landmarks such as cliffs, trees, rocks, forests and rivers, which are often considered their citadel or residence,” says Dr Karma.

Bhutanese families believe in appeasing one’s protective deities. (Source: http://www.kuenselonline.com)

The practise of appeasing one’s protective deities is strong and deeply rooted. 

Huffing and puffing, five men are atop a steep climb. It is 6:30 am. The men are on an important mission. They are on their way to appease their “protective deities.” They do it every year.

The belief is strong and has been passed down for generations. The safety of the family, the success of the year, including crop yield, depend on how appeased their protectors are. The deities are often clan, family or local territorial deities.  

“Bhutanese families believe in the power of these deities to affect the welfare of the human. They are located in or associated with certain power spots or landmarks such as cliffs, trees, rocks, forests and rivers, which are often considered their citadel or residence,” says Dr Karma.

Procedures of the ritual

The ritual begins at the end of a dirt road. There is a ruin of what appears like a two-storey traditional house. A new lhakhang and a choeten were built nearby recently. The men get quickly to task. One gets the saang ready. Others open the trekking bags, taking out oily bangthras (big containers made from cane). Inside the bangthras are rice and meat, lots of them, compartmentalised by banana leaves.

They take out the rice and arrange it on the flat space of the choeten. On top of the rice are pieces of sikam and shakam. Fruits are cut into halves and placed alongside. The bigger share is for the King. The other two are for his servants (their protector and his courtiers, it seems).

They prostrate muttering words of invocation to the deities, calling them by their post:

“We’ve come again to offer you the freshest of the fresh, please accept our yearly offerings. We’ve, like our forefathers, come to seek your protection…”

The youngest, a student, hardly utters a word as he hesitantly prostrates. He offers a Nu 10 note and continues fiddling with his earphones. Two stray dogs have come without invitation. A crow is circling above the choeten.

“It’s a good sign,” says the eldest in the group, Gupdrep (former gup) Thanka. They chase the dogs and wait for the crow to come and eat the offerings.

Offerings made to avoid calamity

Both in the Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist worldviews, these gods play a major role in human wellbeing and prosperity. The traditional Bhutanese life was a constant negotiation with such forces of nature which fill the environment alongside the visible forms of life such as humans, insects, animals and birds.

Dr Karma Phuntsho says that the deities are also considered to be worldly protectors who have a sense of expectation and fear and it is considered important to make timely offering. “If seasonal offerings are missed, they show their dissatisfaction and annoyance through inclement weather, epidemics or some other natural calamity.”

 “In a real sense, doing it on time and doing it the right way gives us positive energy and confidence,” added Dr Karma Phuntsho.

 

By Ugyen Penjor (This article has been edited for the Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on Kuensel.


Related Posts

Thimphu Tschechu 2017 - A Visual Feast

Tschechu, meaning ‘tenth day’ also corresponds to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). This festival is a...

Oct 06, 2017 18:29

Preserving Bhutan’s Music and Traditions

“Bhutan is developing at a faster pace; traditional customs are not. We need to balance these developments. We are...

Sep 28, 2017 11:28

Traditional Process of Dyeing Woollen Yarns at Risk of Dying Out

The traditional method of dyeing woollen yarns to weave Yathra in Bumthang is hardly practiced today. Yathra weaving is...

Oct 13, 2017 06:44

Bhutan’s Six Important Cultural Sites

The 6 sites are namely Buli village in Zhemgang, Ramtoe in Samtse, Ura Doshi in Bumthang, Nabji in Trongsa, Gangtey and...

Oct 27, 2017 08:37

Fined for Refusing to Participate in a Village Festival

Sherab Dema, the daughter of the-once Dropon (lead dancer), was fined Nu 100,000 in Sept 2017 for refusing to...

Oct 11, 2017 07:58

Latest

News

Govt. to Waive Royalty for Tourists Visiting Eastern Bhutan

“Tourists visiting eastern dzongkhags need not pay the daily fee of USD 65 once the proposal comes through,” he said. The government, he...

Nov 15, 2017 07:18

A Gift from His Majesty The King to the People - Drop in Petrol Prices

“The reduction of fuel prices was not passed down because of the fear in the reduction of the domestic revenue, but to honour His Majesty’s...

Nov 11, 2017 10:52

Features

Conserving the Traditional Art of Weaving

The mission of the Royal Textile Academy is to preserve and promote the traditional form of weaving.

Nov 18, 2017 10:36

The Disappearing Practice of Polyandry

The traditional practice of polyandry in Laya was born out of necessity – the remoteness of the place. Located up in the highlands, Laya...

Nov 10, 2017 06:50

Sports

Chencho Gyeltshen Named Most Valuable Player

The home team fought hard against one of the best Middle Eastern teams with experienced professional players and a physically strong team.

Nov 16, 2017 05:28

Coach Pema Returns to Lead National Squad

Coach Pema has the experience of leading the boys since he first took over the squad in the match against the Maldives during the world cup...

Nov 04, 2017 17:30

Business

Bhutan to Graduate from Least Developed Countries Group by 2022

Bhutan has stable political, economic and social settings that could attract a lot of Foreign Direct Investments.

Nov 17, 2017 09:01

Applying the Concept of GNH on Social Enterprises

The essence of a social entrepreneur is what they can do and how they can balance the social and the commercial aspects of a business.

Nov 14, 2017 07:47

Travel

Professionalising Bhutanese Tour Guides

When tourists arrive in Bhutan, the first thing they see is not the pristine mountains or the serene environment. They see the guides.

Nov 11, 2017 12:24

Pray to Conceive at the Chimi Lhakhang

For couples who longed to have children, miracles were said to have happened after they have received fertility blessings at the Chimi...

Nov 08, 2017 08:44

Lifestyle

Efficacy of Traditional Bhutanese Medicine

Research carried out by a postgraduate student at the faculty of traditional medicine under Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences...

Nov 07, 2017 07:39

Popularity of Bhutan Natural's Lemongrass Oil

Bhutan Natural began to import Lemongrass oil from Bhutan in 2016. “We have since established ourselves as a reliable supplier of Bhutan...

Nov 05, 2017 10:41

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!