And then.....

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bhutan- Arts - Music


As with the education of those chosen to dance the sacred dances, those chosen to play the traditional instruments -  and thus represent the culture -  are equally trained in a serious, rigorous manner.
As you will see in the pictures above, many instruments are being played at once.  This was not a practice piece played together rather practice being played in many different ways all at once.  I have no idea how, with so many sounds crashing one on top of the other, the students were able to keep their focus.  But, focus they did inspired perhaps by the honor of  being selected for this training.

Bhutan - Arts - Sacred Dances

As a major feature of the Bhutanese religious festivals, dance is extremely important.  The dancers who must earn their entrance to the sacred dance school must study for many years before being granted the responsibility of performance.
Traditionally the men perform the more athletic of the sacred dances leaving the more story telling renditions to the girls.  Each dance, however, representing sacred aspects of the culture is presented with solemnity and respect for the representation.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bhutan - Paro Farm

The residents of the same farm in Paro pictured below also had a fine barley crop. When I was visiting it was late afternoon and the family was still quite busy with the farming chores. When I asked the woman above what " what makes you happy" she replied " I like farming." There it is, isn't it? Happiness.

In the portrait, the woman is standing in front of the farm door. To enter the three story dwelling you had first to enter this door. This led directly to a dark enclosure where the farm work horses were being housed for the night. Walking past the rather closely packed animals ( mostly the backsides! ) you made your way up a narrow and very steep hewn wooden ladder, moving sort of hand over foot. Above was the simple dwelling area and beyond that, partitioned off by a fabric curtain hung in the door frame, an elaborate home altar room .

Unfortunately it was all too dark at that hour to successfully photograph so I can only tell you about the place. The lasting memory - and I dont think I am being fanciful here - is, despite the dim light, that of a glow that seemed to permeate this large but humble farm house. I can only imagine that this warmth comes from lives well and satisfactorily lived.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bhutan - Rice

A new method for growing rice that comes from Japan is being implemented at a farm in Paro. This rice may look the same but actually is grown in large slabs, a lot like blocks of landscape grass, that are upturned, the under layer scraped, on a regular basis. My impression is that this method may well be more efficient but surely must require a bit of muscle!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bhutan - Rice

Here you see rice workers - all women - working a rice field near Paro town. Part of sustainable economy, a facet of GNH, is surely the cultivation of rice for a great deal of rice is consumed in Bhutan. A new, highly efficient and productive way of growing and harvesting rice has entered the country and I will tell you about that tomorrow.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bhutan - GNH

The H part of GNH, happiness.
The mom is, in addition to being very happy with her little boy, spinning yarn on the wheel you see in front of her.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bhutan - School for Handicapped Children

Bhutan - School for Handicapped Children

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bhutan - School for Handicapped Children

Not long ago this beautiful and talented woman started a school in Thimphu for handicapped children. The school was another example of compassion in action for, until this woman - her name is Jijme - took the steps to set up a center for these children they were generally without any hope of social engagement and work. Now there are several graduates with jobs. The school was a lovely place and with gentle energy. More images to follow from this school.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bhutan - Lungtenzampa School

The classes at Lungenzampa School, as in the Phobjika schools, appear to be serious ones. The attention that I saw exhibited on the part of all of the students was impressive. I never got even a hint of disorder or disrespect.

As you will see from the books above, English is the primary language of the schools. Although there are several dialects spoken in Bhutan, all who have been educated speak English very, very well. ( Cant tell you how happy I was about that because, in truth Dzonka, the dialect of the west, where I was, didnt exactly roll off my tongue!)

Another thing that was impressive was the number of books at the students desks. While students sat in couples and read the same book together, there were many, many books on every desk. Creeping quietly about ( with my noisy Nikon ) I failed to find out precisely why so many books. I have only the evidence for you to see above! Lots of books.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bhutan - Lungtenzampa School

As the students enter the school they pass a very large prayer wheel.

Again, as with the Gantay schools that you saw in earlier posts, without supervision each student sets about a hands-to-work task. I am not sure just what this evokes in me, this seeing kids be corporately productive. Something positive to be sure. It seems to me that the sense of work done together for the good of all is possibly an even greater preparation for adult life than the usual academics.

Bhutan - Lungtenzampa School

The above image has a lot to say about what is important in Bhutan, serious supplication and respect for all living things. ( see dog post in earlier posts).

Bhutan - Lungtenzampa School

The high school in Thimphu is bursting with students and the principal, Kinley Pem, who oversees the education of these young people is bursting with energy as well.
I met Kinley Pem while waiting for the monk's processional to arrive. She kindly invited me to come to the school for a visit which I did the very next day.

As with the primary and middle school, the dayat Lumgtenzampa School begins with an assembly in front of the school. I visited the school on a Friday which is the day that all students are required to wear their formal attire, white scarves for the boys and red embroidered ones for the girls. Respect is instilled in Bhutanese youth very early and, despite these teenagers being, in many ways, just like teenagers all over the world, it is impressive to see the decorum these kids possessed.
More on the high school to follow.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bhutan - Monks Return to Thimphu

And finally, at the end of the ceremony and near the end of a very full day, the monks walked in single file from the site of the ceremony up a steep hill to the dzong that would be their summer quarters. As the well wishers lined the way, again with respectful quiet, the monks stopped, one by one, to receive a small gift of sweets.

And, I must add, finally we are done with this rather large chapter about the monks return. I have had a request to show pictures next from Lungtenzampa School, the high school in Thimphu. Stay turned!

Bhutan - Monks Return to Thimphu

While the people gathered on the far side of a wall, the ceremony, fairly well obscured by flags and the crowd jockeying for a view, took place in solemnity and quiet.

Bhutan - Monks Return to Thimphu

Finally after days of processing northward from Punakha to Thimphu the monks arrive at the site of the welcome ceremony. The image is removed from the golden shrine and transported through the crowd to the gathering place for senior monks, certain young monks and officials representing the government.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bhutan -Monks Return to Thimphu

Dancers and monks at ready as the processional approaches.

Bhutan - Monks Return to Thimphu

After some Thanksgiving, some Blogger issues and some Common Cold on my part, we continue now on the monks return to Thimphu.
As mentioned, it was a tremendous occasion for the people gathered on the street and in the park in honor of the Je Khenpo and relatives in the monk body. As the procession neared the park and the adjacent site for the official welcoming ceremony, the gathering grew in size. Monks grouped together and jockeying for good positions and the dancers prepared to present their numbers.
Under a mason wall was a good choice for this young monk.
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