Friday, April 15, 2011

I am Chath Dorji also known as the phallic man of Shingkhar

Earthly but mirthly,
Perhaps that's What I am
If not thousand, I am definitely more than 700 years old. I have lived all my life here in Shingkhar. Geographically speaking I belong to a brokpa family because Shingkhar is some 3800 meters above the sea level. I am Chath Dorji of Shingkhar. I am not so sure where I descended from, but my neighbors and friends consider me as holy person. My role in my native place is a seasonal one. I have a role to play only in the tenth month in Bhutanese calender. That is when the drum of  five day Shingkhar Rabney starts beating. I come with my sons to join the crowd in offering butter lamps and other available stuffs to our local guardian deity, the Goenpo Mani NakpoLhamo, Yeedam, Yakseng and other countless deities and most important of all, Me me Ragula. That is why I pray and work hard for the harvest in Golaipang  to be bountiful  year after year.

I am old and I am poor. But my face says a different story altogether. My browny crimson face says that I am still active, fertile and vibrant like a juvenile. Beautiful multi dyed yak hair on my head says how multi talented I am. The cane like phallus and a broken bell is all I have inherited from my parents. Folks, especially the infertile ones, believe in my blessings. I can tell  with the conviction that I can be a husband for your daughter because I believe I am as talented as our gullible local leader.
When me and my boys reach Shingkahar  for the Rabney, the folks starting from the chief lama would ask us to describe our arduous journey from Golaipang. This is nothing new. They ask us every year. As a matter of fact, I have been  telling them the same thing over and over and over again for centuries. Here is how it goes:

Yesterday night we all slept in phallus cave,
only to be woken up in a vaginal cave this morning.
We have come here with all the blessings of canny phallus,
So that each one of us live long and healthy,
in our harmonious village.

This would not quench the thirst of humor hungry folks. So me and my boys would continue. We would continue with all sorts of paradoxical and mythical idioms. In order to convince the crowd about our wonderful journey, we often go to the extent of swinging our wooden phallus right below the nose of  the chief lama. Most often than not, he would blush. Blush and blush red. When my boys enter a trance describing our journey, I would pretend to have dizziness and fall on the dusty wintry ground to stop it all together. 

By then folks would have laughed and laughed hard. Some even would have peed in their panty while others would have shed a tears of mirth. I admit that I am not a master comedian but I am in my own simple way, the unifying force in my village. I am neither witty nor an intelligent man, but my words have the power and strength to subside the storm in the cups among my natives. This has been the role of me my boys for over many generations,-co-existing and entertaining them till the five day Rabney is over.

Today with the force of modernization and development, I am starting to see many changes taking place in my village. It all started when the dark nights of my village got illuminated with the coming of solar light in the year 1991. This has not only illuminated the dark nights but has also instilled a sense of greed in otherwise,  innocent and ignorant highlanders. 

Then came the road. This has made many economic activities like planting of potatoes and growing clover grass possible, instead people got engaged in some other activities. They preferred working in quarry digging for stones! A meter cubic stones would fetch anything around Nu.80/-. By local definition, that was a lot of money. 

Then came a Project called ADC project, -they say it's a joint undertaking of Austria and Germany? I, for sure don't know what is Austrian and German are but with their yellow hair and long legs, they surely look alien to me. Back to the project: The project not only had a  huge impact on the economic wellbeing of my place, but have also had many negative impacts too. I have witnessed a horror of forest destruction. Countless number of fir trees, aged more than  century were sowed down and taken away form our place. I don't know where? The money-centric activities lured and divided the locals like the election events of 2008. How sad!

And of Late, I have seen people from the capital city surveying the beautiful plains of Kangsumthang, Nangkaipong and Fawafee, which has been a grazing ground for cattle, sheeps, yaks and other domestic animals for ages. They say they wanted to convert the plains to a golf course.  The idea surely sound good but doesn't look promising for natives. I am deeply worried because no grazing ground for cattle could also mean no more cattle or other livestocks too. This means my locals will have no butter and cheese to offer to me as Lamju,-a farewell gift, on my way back to Golaipang when I am done with Rabney.

In addition to that, I have also seen people erecting numerous iron poles along the pavements. They say, that the lighting system better than the solar is coming soon to Shingkahr. Today morning I called my son Pholay Karchung not to buy an Alto car but to keep money for buying electrical fittings.  I also told him to donate the remaining money for our chief lama because locals wouldn't want to work for the construction of Garkhai Lhakhang if not paid their minimum wage. 

Even though I risk being un-regarded character, just as my jokes risk being obsolete in this "fine woman eat crazy salad with meat" kind of age,  It's my sincere wish and prayer that I continue to entertain my folks during Rabney.  I earnestly and fervently pray that Rabney, Shingkhar, Bhutan, and "World will flourish until eternity"


  1. Wow...such a perfect piece of writing. I can see a beautiful pattern, delicately interwoven. I can see many levels of thought and message. All the patterns were woven on the base canvas of Ap chath doji, who is an embodiment of mahasidhas.
    Artistic presentation of thought. Humourous exertion of views.Exquisite touch of reality.
    An article that talks about history, philosophy,politics,harmony,developments, choices,all in one article............Many Kudos... bring about many such articles in times to come. A perfect treat for a voracious reader...!!!!

  2. wonderful piece......firstly you wrote it the way something most of us would have not tried for such a topic...kudos for that..and secondly the way our article shaped was also much history...moral....emotions..and also the time....wonderful piece....keep on writing.,..:)

  3. An unusual but interesting post. There is an award for you on my blog.

  4. Hi Rachna Madam.
    I accept your award with humility. It has come when needed most (incentive and encouragement to write).
    I have opened a page on my blog to display such awards. so please check your self.

  5. Hi Sonam,
    if you have a rough idea about my village then you will understand everything. But nevertheless, Thanks for liking my post.

    sure! I will come with many in coming days.Keep visiting my blog and keep sharing your thoughts too.......

  6. Hi Namgay,

    You seem to have understood everything i wrote here.

    You know what? I actually thought of writing an article titled "Development and Shingkhar" but suddenly I saw this pic of Chath Dorji in Ugyen Jamtsho's facebook. that was when I changed my mind to include his character in the article.

    so my credit to Ugyen Jamtsho for having this wonderful pic with him as well

    Anyways, thanks for liking my post and ya please keep visiting and pening your thoughts as well.

    have a nice time then...

  7. hey Kuenzang,

    it is very interesting to bring up such articles. Its not just articles with flying words but ... yes as Namgay has said it talks of the history, development, polities and what not.

    will be looking forwards to see such types of articles in near future.

  8. Hi Kuenzang,

    I have a vague idea about your people and culture ,whatever i know is through books or google.:) my comment would do no justice. We have similar culture of lighting diyas during the same month for our deities( The festival is called diwali ). yeah with modernization people will eventually loose their innocence and there would be lot of changes...we must keep asking questions like where we have come from?? where are we now?? and where are we headed?? ignoring the first and last would make us focus where are we now only when we consider all three can we make adequate ethical judgement or development.....Thanks for the lovely post Chath Dorji. Looking forward for more posts like this :):)


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