Thursday, August 10, 2017

Unofficially official National Flag Day Celebrated

Early afternoon of 8th August, after the programme got over, I had mailed enough photographs for a National news agency to telecast the programme but it was hold back owing to the ‘date’. 

The news agency said the date is not authentic as it is not reflected in our Government Calendar. Thus they wanted to have a research done on it first and then run the story. Fair enough I said. But I wish they should have looked into the objectives and intentions rather than fixing their eyes on the date.

Come on ....Every day is auspicious to celebrate our Nationhood for that matter. We don’t look for dates to thank our monarchs, pay tribute to our leaders and celebrate our achievements. Though 8th of August, according to my research, has its own valid reason to stand out as the auspicious day to mark it as our National Flag Day. 

According to Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga and Dorji Penjore, His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck had initiated the design of our flag (The Origin and Description of The National Flag and National Anthem of The Kingdom of Bhutan, The Centre for Bhutan Studies, 2002) and was first made use of it during the signing of Indo Bhutan Treaty of 1949 on 8th ofAugust! 

The celebration at my school turn out to be an instrumental one in reinforcing and redirecting the essence of our age old culture and tradition, love and loyalty for our kings and our mother land. 

Indeed a momentous day celebrating our own Nationhood. With our National flag elegantly dancing in the air there was a sense of patriotic joy radiating profusely from the faces of our students and teacher colleagues. The ambience created by the songs, poems and hundreds of Flag fluttering together while National Anthem was sung gave million reasons to be proud of ourselves. All in all it reminded and help keep us all rooted to the core of who we are as Bhutanese: humble, caring, respectful and loving.    

Children were asked to bring Bhutanese cuisines of their choice for lunch and in the process they came to know the names, experienced the tastes and they learnt the origin of the cuisines. 

They were also instructed to bring and donate flower pots along with flowers to the school teaching them value of volunteerism, donation and to become environmentally conscious.

Songs of praise were sung and poems were recited to mark the day. The gathering was also informed about the reason and purpose to observe the day and they were also briefed on the detail of our National flag.

Commemorating Flag Day, the mid-term academic toppers were also presented with School souvenir as a token of acknowledgment for their hard work.

 As per the main stream media, there is a lot of cultural reinforcement Initiatives undertaken lately by different Schools across the country, various departments and our own esteemed Thrim Throm Education office. 

 From a teacher colleague of mine, I hear zulukha School and lately Changzamtok school have unanimously agreed that all lady staff of the schools would wear full kira at least once in a week. A fair arrangement to revive wearing full kira which with change of time had been side lined.

The other day I saw on BBS another story. All applauds to the Trashiyantse Dzongkhag Education office's humble attempt to re-orient teaching fraternity of the District with regard to our traditional Bhutanese dining custom using 'toray' and phob. The inclusion of summer vacation training camps for students to teach them about various traditional games and sports and not to forget; the esteemed Thromde Education Office requiring all schools to adhere to their infamous Tracksuit policy that they framed exhibits one prime goal-Preservation of culture and Tradition which is one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness.   

I know culture and tradition is of utmost importance. More importantly for Bhutan for reasons best known to ourselves. But how you stream line that matters. Rather than bulldozing ideas and propagating a list of "must dos" for schools which often result into unhealthy debates and blame game- I have a suggestion here.   

The Flag Day Celebration is culturally a thing of the western world so there is a tendency in our children to accept whole heartily, love it and enjoy the programme. The response for and the event held at my school was an unambiguously a successful one.  Thus, I see an opportunity to blend in all cultural aspects of our kingdom, be it cuisine, folktales, customs, textiles, sports, history, music and dance when we celebrate our National Flag Day- Because they say a National Flag Stands firmly to represent a  country! 

For event of this magnitude to happen across the country, I have this strong wish to see 8th of August on our Government Calendar marked as National Flag Day from next year. Concern authorities need to step forward to endorse and especially I would place an earnest appeal to Ministry of Education to take an active role to make this Day happen, for the benefit of all because we know schools play dynamic role to make or marr a society .

Why we should celebrate Flag Day:

  1: To remember our fallen heroes.

 2. To show gratitude to our monarchs.

  3: To relearn the flag's minute detail and its significance. 

4: To impart a sense of belongingness towards ones country.

 5: To celebrate our collective achievements as a nation.

 6: To revive some cultural essence and traditional etiquette by making children bring Bhutanese cuisines for lunch.

 7: To reinstall environmental consciousness among students through donation of flower pots to school. 

 8: Helping them understand the importance of nature.

 9: To inculcate the good virtue of charity and brotherhood.

 10: To inculcate the priceless values of Thanks giving, respect, love, care, gratitude, collaboration.

 What we could collectively enjoy and achieve on 8th of August as a school, a seat of learning, there is no reason why we shouldn't be celebrating the Flag Day next year (and every year to come) with greater zeal even if it doesn't make it on government calendar.

By the way, there was more than what my eyes could see….it’s my limited language skill and limited vocabulary that really couldn’t capture the real feelings and emotions we felt in the heat of celebrating the first ever Flag Day in my School( and perhaps  in the  Country).

Picture courtesy  (Some pictures) and teacher colleagues. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lets go to Doklam!

“Tshering...why don’t you understand. It’s the most important journey we had agreed to embark may na? We just cannot afford to give up now. After rigorous planning, purchasing all these expensive mountaineering equipment and this huge hand-sewn National flag that cost us almost a fortune...because for past one month we had to sent the flag across the country to let all Bhutanese citizens place their signature on it…you don't say NO now....” Looking at Dondup, a travel agent and a college friend of mine, "... please talk with him", I directed Dondup, to convince Tshering about the expedition.

Dondup in his attempt to break the difficult conversation between Tshering and me, he announces his preparedness for the expedition. He informs me, "Pelden... I could manage these tents, prayer flags, Lungtas....please tell me what else I should be arranging...we are super duper excited! Wow!...right Tshering?...Can't wait anymore now!" He added frequently glancing at Tshering in his attempt to convince him.

Tshering still didn't look convinced after Dondup's modest attempt but I had to do what I wanted to do. "Silly emotions, at the moment, needed to put aside for we are prepared for the mission of our life", I assured myself and therefore I maintained my cool and continued to bring Doklam back to our prospective.

Thus, I debrief my two friends, if Tshering is willing or not,   regarding this journey of our life time. The dates on which places we would reach to, the emergency kit, Plan B if Plan A fails and how exactly we would maneuver our planned action the moment we reach there.

Its such an urgent and significant journey we were to embark on. At least I presume it to be so. Because the magnitude of the situation urges us. The gravity of the issue demands us. No matter what...we are all set and prepared for the expedition to Doklam! "If not anyone, I shall go all by myself" I declared.

The following day, Tshering stands aside the taxi on my drive way which would take us to the end of motor-able road in extreme western part of Haa Dzongkhag  which will take us  towards Chumbi Valley. From there we were to descend, hike and finally reach Doklam. 

Deep down we knew Tshering would come along with us anyway. He is a true son of this Dragon kingdom. Only his interview for an enriching working experience at silicon valley in California, USA gave him some hiccups. We learnt on our way to Haa that after our confrontation he had made a trans-continental telephone call to US. Luckily his American counterpart agreed to his plea to extend the interview for they better understand the gravity of the situation at Doklam  and its impact on the future of the entire South East Asia.

We finally reached at the base camp near Doklam plateau in the evening of 6th August. "Congratulations friends,” I said, "we are on schedule..... Tomorrow is the day we all have sacrificed, prepared and have been waiting for".

On 7th we climbed the plateau of Doklam again and hoist the prayer flags, hung the Lungtas and collectively we then painted ‘om mane pamay hu’ mantra on the huge rock nearby.

That day and the day before, we only had preserved food meant for mountain climbers. The real home-made sumptuous Bhutanese cuisine shall be prepared and self-served on Doklam Plateau itself. It was also enlisted in the bucket list of sort that we ought to do there apart from the hoisting of prayer flags and our National Flag.

My software engineer friend who  aspires to work in silicon valley  requested me to explain why 8th of August is so auspicious on the eve of the d-day of our mission. Surrounded with flames of a large bonfire, I explained immediately that it was on 8th of August, 1949 when Indo-Bhutan Treaty was signed Bhutan had officially made use of its National Flag to exhibit our status as a sovereign and independent country!

Its a bright sunny day on 8th of August. Clear blue sky without a single fringe of cloud. I told myself, "what a lovely day! Today will be again marked in the history of Bhutan; 8th of August, 2017...ofcourse this time for a different reason". 

In the early morning of 8th of August, Dondup prepared the pre-agreed cuisine namely emadatshi, red rice, ezay, Lang Sha, Thukpa, home made noodles, suja and home brewed alcohol which Dondup surprised us with. He had brought more than what was agreed. But we didn't mind. While Dondup was busy, Tshering and I forged ourselves in digging a deep hole stable enough to hold our huge hand sewn National Flag.

Together with utmost respect we hoist our National Flag on Doklam Plateau, sang our national anthem with our hands held high and then we served ourselves the sumptuous Bhutanese cousine amidst the air of conflict blowing from the power corridors of Asian giants; China and India.

As we climb down, Dondup was leading us. And as usual, Tshering positioned himself between us. I was at the end. With great satisfaction I kept glancing at the prayer flags and our National Flag flying high on Doklam symbolically nullifying the hollow claims and confusion created by our neighbouring giants.


The well painted mantras on the huge rock and the Lungtas dancing in the air gave me a sense of assurance that happiness and peace shall prevail. The mantras on the prayer flags will spread far and wide. Owing to its power, the evil thoughts will be subdued and it shall  help to give rise to only positive ones. Of brotherhood and lasting  peace. 

China in the north and India in the south would then mind their own business and let Bhutan be alone. Let the mantras on the prayer flags and mantra encurved on the rock sweeps away the dark political clouds hovering  above the sky of New Delhi and Beijing.

The moment we spent and The Weapons of Mass Happiness and Peace we had left behind and engraved on the Plateau gives me immense pleasure. "We did it..we did it!" Sincerely I pat on my back.

"I think someday our Tourism Industry have to open "Doklam Trekking and Camping" for our esteemed  politically minded tourists, will fetch a lot of dollars", announced my friend Dondup. And Tshering shared his wildest dream of having a multi-national multi-billion research center stationed on Doklam Plateau all for the betterment of the entire region.

As we descend further down, I suddenly hear a firm call by a lady from far distance." I am familiar with this lady’s voice...", I muttered to myself. "...but how would someone know my name in this isolated, tri-junction and so deserted  place?" I wondered myself. Another loud call forced me to open my eyes. Alas! It’s my wife pulling my hand and waking me up for school. I was literally in deep sleep after a month long summer vacation.

Oh man! It was a mere dream. A thought provoking one. But worthy of recollecting and rejoicing the moment at Doklam; The hot and happening place right now!

                                           # Picture courtesy:  Concern photographers/

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Happy Birthday to my own goddess of Compassion.

Dear Tara,

Today you will be celebrating your 27th Birthday. Its your 5th birthday we would be celebrating together. And yes the first birthday of yours after becoming a mother. Yes, this birthday will down in history as the very special birthday you have celebrated.

Tara, you have come a long way. Experiencing the so called life way beyond your age. From a young girl to a fine lady, you have shown so much courage to speak your mind and to stand on your own feet, bravery to maintain self-esteem and the zeal for the life to live. And now you are a proud mother of a healthy boy. You deserve every possible happiness and peace of mind.

I know along the way time has taken a toll on your body.  Those pregnancy scars and pain you have courageously endured during labour will heal with time but the joy of becoming a mother and whatever that comes along with its territory will continue.

No matter what sort of party i throw tonight or gift i present to you today wont make this birthday more memorable because the best thing in the world is there nestling in your lap. The special gift you have gifted yourself after you have endured those scars and labour pain. I am so proud of you my lady! 

Yashayr our little champ was born on 6th of July and you on 30th of July. I know you are super excited because you are sharing your birthday month with our little one. Yashayr is 25 days old today.
Thus, on your this special birthday I reaffirm my promise to give you and our little one a ton of love, to become superhuman(All fathers aspire to be) to look after your needs and those of our son's. One more; Iighting a butter lamp this morning  i prayed to God to bless you always with good health, more strength, happiness, peace of mind and courage of a perfect mother to help you help our son grow and nurture to become a fine man!. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Naming Ceremony of our son.

Dear son Yashayr  Daiwik Bhandari,

Yes thats your name. Yashayr Daiwik Bhandari. Yashayr means ‘wealth’ (in sanskrit , And in dzogkha: Ya means high and shayr means shine)and Daiwik means 'grace of God'; Yes you are our irreplaceable wealth and indeed a grace of God; A blessing from heaven.

Priest Modan Pokhrel undertaking the ceremony
On 16th July, the whole family again got engrossed in your naming ceremony at our place in Changzamtog. The naming ceremony is known as Naamkaran in Hindi and Nauran in our Nepali culture. The ceremony was administered by Pandit Mohan Pokhrel.
Uncle Yamuna helping me during the ceremony

The event is usually held on 11th day after birth. The naming ceremony is one of the lavish events. 

Your daddy had to be with the priest performing the various rituals related to the elaborated religious ceremony. The culture has been passed down from generation to generation. It has lived for more than 5000 years now! There must be something so subtle and powerful we cannot easily deny or neglect the rituals. Thus, your daddy accepted to conduct the ceremony wholeheartedly.  Two long hours of offering, prayers and mantra recitations were religiously undertaken for your overall wellbeing.
Your daddy didnt know much about the procedures involved. Uncle Yamuna made himself available during the ceremony to assist me. You have to know that as I am very grateful to him so is the whole family because your uncle has been always there in all major family events/crisis making sense of the situations. By the way, the uncle priest was also considered enough to repeat instructions in simple Nepali so I could complete the ceremony without leaving anything incomplete.
After prayers being offered; offerings made and Yagna (ceremonial rites to god) done, the family members were summoned for the much awaited moment. To hear the auspicious letter sound pronounced by the priest of which the name of the New born shall start with. The auspicious letter sound are Ya or yaa. The name could start with either sound. With great happiness we named you Yasayr!

After the announcement, you were taken outside by your grandma to veranda, as instructed by the priest, to help you stand on your feet touching a lump of cow dung and also make you do surya darshan (showing to the sun for blessings). This is done to get liberated from all impurities. Thus, from that day, relatives and friends could visit you as and when they wish to.

    Stepping on cow dung; an act to purify.
Grandma helping you see the mighty sun.
I knew that you would be the center of attention during the ceremony so your daddy bought some gifts for your brother Herish and sister Neha and Deepanjali. Why? Because I read somewhere that during such events siblings feel isolated because the center of attention would be the New born. They would feel neglected. Hope your daddy made them happy by presenting a jumper to Herish, a colouring book for Deepanjali and a Short story book for Neha didi. We could only do the presentation of gifts at the end of the naming ceremony.
Sister Deepanjali with her gift
Neha with her gift.

Herish with his gift.
However, according to the age old culture, your mom will have to wait till 22nd day before she would be allowed to enter inside our alter room. She wont be also allowed to prepare meals for others during this period. 

Grandma Juma Subedi and uncle Matrika with you
Aunt Homa presenting you a gift

Aunt Binda presenting you a gift.
Many relatives and family friends came to pay you a visit. To congratulate us and to wish you good health, success and happiness. Along with them many gifts also came home to celebrate your arrival. To host large number of visitors is a daunting task. Both your grandmas, aunts (Binda and Homa) and other relatives were very busy in preparing meals and serving the visitors. You got to thank them one fine day.
This will bring a smile on your face. In the following day grandpa was seen folding your loincloths neatly. Grandma was seen resting with you after the hectic day. 

Grandpa busy with your loincloths.
Grandma's special moment with you.
And amidst these, we were to hear another news. We receive a photo sent by an uncle from our village sharing a good news on WhatsApp. Our young cow has given birth to a healthy calf. Icing on the cakeI thought. The family had another beautiful reason to be glad and to remember this auspicious month. The month of your birth (6th July), the sixth day celebration (11th July and your naming ceremony (16th July). 

Our cow with her New born calf.
Love you
Mom and Dad.
Date: 20th July, 2017.

#Yagna Picture courtesy@uncle Matrika.

Unofficially official National Flag Day Celebrated

Early afternoon of 8th August, after the programme got over, I had mailed enough photographs for a National news agency to telecast the pr...