Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To My College Friends – On Valentines

Photo Courtesy: Internet
Tonight, the milky-way is twinkling up in the heaven toting up colour to this valentine. The Mr. Moon – watching the exquisite valentine scene on the land as if like a queen watching the sense of duty blend by rich bees and sugary sweets. This is a night where lovers copiously fall in love; couples faithfully make their vows, but singles miserably experience the kick of loneliness. 

We enjoyed the journey of our life together for years, months, weeks, and days. We laughed and cried together; we worked and worried together; we learned and taught together and undeniably we irritated each other as well at some point. Tonight is the best time to recall all bygone memories – sweet, bitter, funny, irritating… 

Some memories brings involuntary smile on my face and keeps me alive even in this late lonely night when the whole world is sleeping. Others invite countless of tears through my cheeks but I listen to the moan of the trees behind my house – it successfully consoles me. Most merrily, the majority of memories make me laugh loud at night like an outcry of a lone thoughtless man in a town. 

The wind of uncertainty swiftly blew over us – the true friends. We are now scattered length and breadth of the country as if like a farmer’s sow all over his field. We are put out of sight by gigantic mountains; out of reach lengthy rivers, and out of odor by elongated plains. But, what somebody said wonderfully implies here – out of sight is never out of mind. This, we can assure for we understood each other’s mind if not mastered.  

We understand that the day (Valentine) is to honour St. Valentine, the patron saint of romantic causes. But, is the honour for his death or deeds? If it is for your exceptional deeds, please don’t let us depart at least at this moment. Saint Valentine, please come back alive and save us from this insufferable pain of missing.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shangri-La’s dying culture

Photo Courtesy: Internet
For a tiny landlocked country like Bhutan, preservation of its rich cultural heritage is important for its identity and sovereignty. It is like a soul that keeps the nation breathing forever. Knowing culture’s critical significance to the very survival as a nation state, Bhutan has adopted preservation and promotion of culture as one of the pillars of GNH, and consequently many initiatives are in place for the upkeep of our distinct cultural heritage.

Meet a foreigner, and one common question that he or she will ask will be undeniably about our culture. Irrespective of how we value or nurture our culture, we conceitedly give every positive detail on our religion, music, dress, festivals, and sports. Perhaps, most of us involuntarily exaggerate with excitement to convince the guest that we have a rich and unique cultural heritage. As such, it is obvious that deep in our mind, it is everybody’s vision to see our distinctive culture and heritage live forever.

However, it seems that our deeds are dictated by the materialistic mind. For wealth and fame, people are seen intrepidly playing with the culture, which has remained untouched for centuries. Our culture seemed to be more sold out than preserved!

For instance, cultural exchanges are common. The government contentedly finds platforms to perform our sacred mask dances and unique folk dances overseas. It is obvious that the intent of such an exchange is to promote our rich and diverse cultural heritage to the outside world, but at the cost of the significance of some scared mask dances.

Private companies, especially tourist resorts, arrange mask dances on their entertainment stage to amuse their customers. And we understand that it is more for the benefit of their own business. I doubt if the complex steps are taken care of or undermined to save pain and time.

And lately, one of the children’s talent shows is also advertised with Atsara as an anchor, likely to be arranged to attract more viewers. Some music bravely integrated some religious tune as an interlude, and some architecture creatively used the shape of religious instruments as door handles.

Most frighteningly, even some religious festivals are also said to be brought before schedule or postponed as per the demand and convenience of tourists, compromising the significance of the auspicious dates. The sacret song of Aum Jomo: Amo Cheley, which is prohibited even to be hummed except during a particular ceremony, is out in mass production.

One perfect example of how we are bent on achieving fame is that we see more and more lhakhangs, mani and chortens (religious stupas) constructed alongside the highways. The old religious monuments situated in the vicinity of towns get ample sponsors who renovate them beautifully. Conversely, in the far-flung places, many scared lhakhangs, manis and chortens are on the verge of collapse, demanding an urgent attention. If we are genuinely devoted to our sublime religion, we would directly prefer the significance of the monument and place, over wealth and fame that our deeds fetch.

Consider the declining number of gomchens in the villages and the growing number in the towns. We cannot complain against them for going for wealth when the most learned khenpos are after dollars. The only fear is that very soon there might not be any gomchen left to conduct religious rituals and ceremonies in the villages.

Every mask dance bears some important significance and thus is prohibited from being performed beyond prescribed place and date. When the blessing of our scared religion declines, we cannot hope for better.

We need to understand the nature of our cultural heritage that we aim to deal with. Otherwise, gradually we will lose the significance of our distinctive culture just for some amount of money. I wish soon there will be rules monitoring our culture.

Contributed to Bhutanobserver

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I hate my birthday

Today is my birthday. My mother already lit a butter lamp on the altar, and praying for me. I can see her lips shuddering as if like a criminal trembling amidst authoritative jury. But, her strange shudder plainly proves that each of her prayers and wishes are genuine. I know that she wanted me to be a happiest person in this world. The shrine is already clouded with thick smoke of incense, but her prayers are endless. 

By now, the entire room is filled with sweet aroma of saintly burn. With much devotion, I entered the shrine, prostrated three times, and then start praying. I silently requested my god to bless us with pleased and prosperous life. ‘We will celebrate the day’, Ama said in her weak tone. ‘Your father must be ready with the arrangement’. I remained quiet for the reason that I never support the culture of birthday celebration. 

My stance on the birthday celebration has always been a little critical. My abhorrence on such well-known mores has no concrete reasons, but purely based on my own sentiment. It is a day when our dearly loved mother shed tears of blood, unable to endure the pain. Who would like to celebrate the torment of our own mother in such an exciting way? Absolutely preposterous! My repugnance grows even more, when I listen to the depressing story of my own birth delivery… (to be continued) 

PS: Please don't wish me. This is fiction!