Wednesday, December 29, 2010

puffing away to glory

I have heard people taking oath to quit something but never heard of people taking oath to do something. I have never seen anyone taking oath but I have experienced firsthand – an oath taking ceremony.

I was forced to take an oath, an oath to quit smoking and drinking. I didn’t really know the significance of taking an oath… I still don’t. Yet I had to take the oath (sounds like I was forced. Those who witnessed might not have seen it as a forceful however; I was mentally and literally forced to take it.)

An oath taking ceremony was organized by the Young Buddhist Association. Not many youths came to the oath taking ceremony. It was mostly the elderly people. However all said and done, the ceremony went well.
A very observation though. I saw a father with his sons. He had four with him. What was amazing was that he was introducing them to Garab Rinpochhe and was actually forcing them to take the oath. Very young to argue with their dad, they quietly and very obediently took their oath.  

What I don’t understand is that why are they being forced to take the oath? There is a popular Bhutanese believe that if you break the oath, you will bleed and puke blood to death. If that is true, then does he want his sons to bleed to death, more so, want me to puke blood and die as I was also forced to take the oath?
I remember telling my mother that I don’t want to take the oath and there my mom goes, always being THE mom… “Don’t try to act so smart, be in the line,” she ordered and I embarrassed as many heard her order, stood in the line to take the oath.

As drew near Rinpochhe, I was scared and thought if i will be able to keep the promise not to smoke, drink and do drugs. Rinpochhe asked “which one do you want to quit?” I said “alcohol.” I was given the holy water but after a minute, he asked “do you smoke?” I was so scared, I said “No.” and then he said, the oath is for drinking and smoking then.

I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do. Wanted to throw the holy water but my mother was just behind me.  

A trick I did not realizing if it would work or not. I said to myself, “oath to stop alcohol for a month and oath to smoke smoking for an hour,” and I sipped the holy water.

Funny! An hour later, there I was again with a cigarette in between my fingers, puffing away to glory. 

After thinking real hard, i have finally decided to quit it... willingly... after new years...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

few pigs live in peace

For the past 24 years, every time I visited my village for the annual puja, it’s a bad smell that attacks the nostrils to let you know you have reached home.
It’s the smelly pigs and its sty, and the “oink oink” cry.
The annual puja was a regular thing and so was slaughtering. The pigs were raised like children from birth, fed well, only to be slaughtered for the annual puja.
During the regular puja gathering last year, I remember my family gathered on the front porch. We were catching up on the years we haven’t been home.
Suddenly I saw my grandmother covering her ears and chanting prayers. Then I realized what was happening.
Just below our porch, the pig was being slaughtered.
“Grunt, grunt,” the pig cried in pain.
The excitement in my brother’s voice was heard simultaneously.
“Grunt grunt,” went the pig again and finally it fell silent.
The flesh was cut, the waste and uncookable parts were thrown, a bowl was filled with the pig’s intestine (juma). Half the flesh was hung to make shikam.
But now, a religious order not to slaughter pigs for pujas is a welcome move.
A year back, my grandmother, the head of the house, said there would be no killings and we stopped it, however, it didn’t stop the butchers from killing them as we bought the pork for the puja from the shop.
The pig sty in my ancestral house has been empty for the past one year, neither cleaned nor destroyed.
The competition in villages for giving the best meat dish would also decrease with the ban.
 “With the ban, the animals would be excused and the competition in the villages would also be minimal,” said Ap Gyeltshen, a farmer from Punakha. However, another farmer added that bringing in more varieties of vegetable curries would be a challenge.
Bhutanese are not very good in preparing a variety of vegetable dishes. But with the slaughter ban, it would be interesting to see how delicious our puja dishes can become.