Monday, August 29, 2011

CHO KHOR.....a religious errand

The school Administration declares Holiday for today and my students aren’t happy because they are not coming to school but at this time around the annual Cho- khor is underway. They are at the village Lhakhang looking ahead for a day long festival
Voluntarily the students take up roles and responsibilities and those who arrive late they just join the parade. Three of the elder boys wear wooden masks, little ones hold prayer flags and elder girls carry religious text on their back as the parade move from one small hamlet to another and back to the Lhakhang.  Apparently, it is excruciating climbing and descending hills through thick bushes and maize fields. But a refreshing trip for the villagers after a yearlong hard work.
One Hack of a Religious Procession
For past two days the local lay monks with whom I play soccer in weekends has been reading the religious text and chanting mantras. Today, the sacred texts get a long ride around the villages and the on lookers bow and touch the scriptures with their heads to get blessings. The mask dancers, the Kangpas as they are called in their local dialect, ask any amount of money by offering Khadars. Interestingly, the Kangpas are said to have magical hands so they are allowed to enter vegetable gardens and maize field and steal as much as they could. The simple touch of their hands is believed to yield a good harvest.
They Laugh Throughout The Day

The parade is as musical as it is religious. They play clarinet a sophisticated flute, cymbals, beat drum and blow horns.  The parade takes rest at a designated house in each hamlet.  A large Smoke is created to guide the parade to the house. There are five hamlets in total. There they are served with butter tea, milk tea, jow (fried rice) biscuits and fruits. However they eat only one lavish meal at the end of the day. Alas! I was about to forget the main item in the menu. The home made beverage of millet and maize is the best and are offered with great care and passion. Ironically, where a pot of this Holy Spirit is considered culturally sound and OK but smoking is equally disapproved and considered as evil deed.
That Yellow Thing In The Black Pot Is The THING
At the end of the day, the Master of the Ceremony collects the money from the Kangpas and equally distribute among the three of them. Historically the money collected was to be used for monastic propose and the stolen vegetables and cash crops are to be sold to government servant like me to make some money for next year’s event. It is also said that the parade used to be accompanied with dancers and singers. It’s another story of traditional culture being outdated due to modern life style.
From the religious point of view the holiday is observed because it was on this day that Lord Buddha first preached his followers. It is one of the auspicious days (this year it was on 3rd August).  It’s one of many religious holidays depicted in the government calender . But the community here, for no reason as such, celebrates the festival today.

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