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

Bhutan Lifts Ban On Rupee Note, Advises Against Holding Indian Currency In Cash

Bhutanese can now bring new series of INR 500 notes in and out of Bhutan.

Jun 20, 2018 15:17

Bhutan Joins Seeds Without Borders To Import Better Quality Seeds

The seed agreement covers a number of rice-based crops such as maize, wheat, vegetables, pulses and other crops.

Jun 18, 2018 17:40

Features

What People Are Saying About The Finale Episode Of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: Bhutan

It was a bittersweet season finale for the late Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown.

Jun 25, 2018 14:45

63 Year Old Traditional Healer In Bhutan Has Fixed More Than A Thousand Sprains And Fractured Bones

For more than three decades, Tashi Wangdi has been fixing fractures and sprained joints in Trashigang.

Jun 23, 2018 08:43

Sports

World Cup Mania Grips Some Teenagers, Adults And Monks In Bhutan

A huge crowd has gathered in front of the massive TV screen to witness the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Jun 24, 2018 18:25

Bhutanese Sonam Rigzin Played As Goalkeeper For His Team ‘King Cobra’ In The F4F World Championship In Russia

Sonam Rigzin walked into the Sapsena Arena in Russia bearing the Bhutanese national flag to open the finals.

Jun 16, 2018 08:45

Business

Dairy Farmer In Bhutan Sells Jersey Cow Milk Which Yields Good Profits

Sonam has four cross jersey cows, three of which are milking and he is able to sell more than 30 litres of milk every day.

Jun 25, 2018 09:11

Interview With Bhutan Alternatives: A Social Enterprise Which Recycles Printer Cartridges

The firm also employed 17 female and 13 male employees from underprivileged families and high school dropouts.

Jun 22, 2018 10:55

Travel

Six Senses Bhutan Preparing For October 2018 Opening

Three of the five Six Senses luxury lodges are now taking reservations for travel starting on Nov 3, 2018.

Jun 21, 2018 10:01

Heat Maps Illustrate the Sacred Routes of Buddhist Pilgrims

In Strava’s heat maps, the devotional movements of tired pilgrims become blazing symbols of sacred geography.

Jun 18, 2018 09:32

Lifestyle

‘Do You Know Your Child’ A Popular Show In Bhutan Helps Parents Bond Better With Their Kids

Since its inception in 2013, about 264 Bhutanese children have participated in the show.

Jun 20, 2018 18:43

Mountain Echoes Literary Festival Returns On Aug 23 - Here's Why You Should Attend

This year's festival celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India.

Jun 15, 2018 00:32

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!