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goldenlangur

Paro Tsechu (a haibun)

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goldenlangur

Paro Tsechu (a haibun)

 

dawn prayers -

monastery windows

mirror a plane in flight

 

The cockerel is still dozing in the shed and stars lie embedded in the deep indigo as I light the fire on this dawn of the Tsechu. Today, the miraculous birth and feats of the Lotus-Born will unfold in the cobbled courtyard of Rinpung dzong. Thirteen centuries after he graced our land, we still seek illumination of our deepest dreams and fears in his sacred terma.

 

We surge along the old wooden bridge, the invocation on our lips echoing mantras on the faded fragments of prayer flags strung along the sides. To the clang of cymbals, the blare of long trumpets and in a haze of juniper and roasted barley incense we spill into the galleried open space .The sonorous chants of the monks waft and weave with the whirl of hand-held prayer wheels and the hum of prayers, into a tapestry of fervent hope. We heave towards the vast Thongdrel as the awakening sun illuminates its brocade surface. Clutching our offerings of fruits and grains we bow before the Guru of all gurus.

 

I feel a sharp edge against my ear as a towering American leans forward, his hand curled round a camcorder. He zooms into the intricate lotus whorls on the Thongdrel. A toothless woman raises her gnarled palms wrapped in prayer beads in full view of his lens.

 

"Fucking shit!" He swears, before he's jostled out of focus.

 

"Look at these things the foreigners carry!" a white haired man cries in awe, as he ducks before a video-recording woman.

 

What's this picture taking for?" A young woman wants to know.

 

"Perhaps we'll all become famous," I joke feebly, as I wrestle with my Rachu, which seems to have become entangled among indistinguishable feet.

 

A tap on the shoulder and I turn to face a Japanese man with a clutch of camera straps around his neck.

 

"Click, click, photo please,” he says as he tries to span, those of us nearest to him, out in a line.

 

"Beautiful clothes," he smiles in thanks.

 

I'm now leagues away from the Thongdrel in this sea of humanity. The packet of rice offering wet in my sweating palms.

 

spring solstice -

persimmon buds droop

in scorching sun

 

6/05/06

 

 

Notes:

Tsechu: Literally the ‘tenth day’. In popular Buddhist traditions, it is believed that the Lotus-Born Guru (a St. Patrick kind of figure) was born on the tenth day on a lotus (water lily) in the middle of a lake in the kingdom of Uddiyana. He is also called the Second Buddha and popularly knows as Guru Rimpoche –The Great Teacher. The Tsechu is an annual mask dance festival, which commemorates the miraculous birth and deeds of this great saint.

 

Terma: Esoteric ritual texts said to have been hidden by this saint and which have been discovered by various religious adepts over the centuries. The main dances of the Tsechu are described in sacred terma texts, which were discovered by later incarnations of this Guru.

 

Dzong: A castle /fortress which is also a monastic centre. Rinpung is the name of the dzong in Paro valley.

 

Thongdrel: A gigantic tapestry/applique woven out of silken threads on brocade, depicting the lives of important religious figures.

 

The word ‘Thongdrel” literally means “deliverance on sight” We believe hat those who behold the ‘thongdrel’ are assured of a good rebirth.

 

Rachu: A ceremonial shawl used for religious purposes.

 

 

 

goldenlangur


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Tinker

Hi gl, The structure of this haibun is particularly effective. You set up the prose with the opening haiku and tie it all up in an emotive moment with the concluding haiku. The prose clearly and sequentially describes what should have been a spiritual experience sullied by the intrusion of the material world.

 

I am shamed by the actions of the rude American tourist. His shocking behavior unsettled me just as I was becoming absorbed in the traditions of this holy day.

We heave towards the vast Thongdrel as the awakening sun illuminates its brocade surface. Clutching our offerings of fruits and grains we bow before the Guru of all gurus.

 

I love that you share your culture with us through such vivid and entrancing images. Thank you for this piece.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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goldenlangur

Hi Tink,

 

Thank you for your very thoughtful reading of this haibun. This mask dance festival with the final blessing of the Thongdrel is one of the highlights of our calendar. So its quite understandable that this should be a popular tourist attraction. It's only fair to say that the American tourist having paid quite a lot for this viewing, must have been very keen to capture it all in his camcorder. There's some management of the crowds as it is a religious occasion and everyone wants to view the Thongdrel. I don't know how it can be done better without upsetting tourists and the locals.

 

I'm very grateful for your understanding and appreciation of the situation.

 

 

 

goldenlangur


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Aleksandra

Thank you Aleksadra for your lovely, generous words about my country and also for your support of my writing.

 

Yes, we're indeed blessed with beautiful landscape and a rich culture and I'm so glad that you enjoy accounts of these aspects of my country.

 

With appreciation,

 

goldenlangur


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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tonyv

Hi Golden,

 

I hope I wasn't the ignorant American with the camera! icon_lol.gif Only kidding ... but I sometimes feel like this when someone I know tells me, "Hey, I saw you (driving) today!" I usually say, "I hope I didn't cut you off or make some obscene gesture at you!" icon_razz.gif Again, kidding, of course.

 

But yes, tourists do seem to seek out all varieties of traditional local events, and yes, they do bring their cameras. Your having shown that aspect in this haibun makes me think of an article I just read about a Bolivian event called "Tinku," where locals " ... come down from the mountains drunk, dancing and ready to fight," in order to settle old scores, according to THIS article. The article also states that, "Tinku fighters generally resent the foreigners' gaze and now ask for money to have their picture taken." But please don't think that I am likening the fascinating religious event you so eloquently and interestigly describe to the other, more mundane event in any way other than pointing out the relationship of tourists to local participants.

 

I like how you set the scene with the early morning, though I myself can't imagine being awake before the cockerel. icon_smile.gif I especially like these parts:

'Perhaps we'll all become famous,' I joke feebly, as I wrestle with my Rachu, which seems to have become entangled among indistinguishable feet ...

 

I'm now leagues away from the Thongdrel in this sea of humanity. The packet of rice offering wet in my sweating palms ...

The haikus superbly capture the passage of this Tsechu. Thanks, as always, for including the footnotes.

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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goldenlangur

Hi Tony,

 

Thank you for the link - the Bolivian "Tinku" event. I shall have a look.

 

I sense an unease in your response and would like to say that the descriptions in the haibun are factual and I hope, not judgmental. I wonder if the boots were on the other feet - i.e. a Bhutanese tourist in the US how one might behave?

 

We Bhutanese do understand that tourism bring in valuable earnings for the economy and also generates employment for many locals. It's just sometimes what's spiritual and perhaps significant, like the Tsechu festival, is just a spectacle for the tourist. How do we blalance the two is something we struggle with.

 

I appreciate the trouble you've taken, Tony to give this haibun thought and consideration.

 

 

rhino


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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tonyv
I sense an unease in your response and would like to say that the descriptions in the haibun are factual and I hope, not judgmental. I wonder if the boots were on the other feet - i.e. a Bhutanese tourist in the US how one might behave?

 

No unease whatsoever, Golden. I like this haibun very much!

 

Tony icon_smile.gif


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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goldenlangur

Hi Tony,

 

I'm relieved:

tonyv wrote:

 

No unease whatsoever, Golden. I like this haibun very much!

 

Tony
icon_smile.gif

 

Thank you icon_smile.gif

 

goldenlangur


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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