Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Descending Day of Lord Buddha: A photo esssay

The "home examination" period is officially over for my class IX and class XI students and as of yesterday they are heading home. However that does not mean it is all over for me. Only through a concerted effort and much sacrificing of free time have I finally marked the first 4 class sets of papers leaving me another 4 to go. At least in this coming week there are no classes and no exam supervision so I feel that it will be possible to meet the deadline and the holidays are almost in sight even though we are not sure exactly when we will pull out of Rangjung.

For class X and XII the dreaded Bhutan Board exams are still to come. After one day of exams last week, there was a public holiday for The Descending Day of Lord Buddha or Choeker (I think the spelling is wrong again) This involved all the Class X and ClassXII students visiting the local monastery along with the rest of the local community and many of Ian's RLSS students and their families were also in the awestruck crowd.

The central players in this event were the wooden boxes of scriptures which are covered in bright orange coloured cloth and stored in the monastery. Once again students had the opportunity to carry them around the monastery, town and to both our schools where they were received in a grand fashion. A great deal of merriment and entertainment accompanied the processions, gatherings and prayers. 

I was tempted to give it a miss and jump right into that exam marking but curiosity got the better of me and  I had to see what this event entailed. In retrospect I am extremely glad I made the decision to go as it was an amazingly colourful spectacle that has truly whet our appetites for the Trashigang Tsechu.

The masked crowd pleaser warmed up the audience and collected donations throughout the whirling dervishes type performances that started the program and then all over town for the rest of the day.

We only stayed for the morning session as guilt got the better of me and I finally had to start wading my way through the bundles of exams papers I had successfully ignored up to that point, but what and amazing day it was.....  I will let the photos speak for themselves

The first of the amazing dance group's performances

Final turn before disappearing

Head lama at the helm.

Lined up and eagerly waiting to be in the parade with the sacred documents

Prayer captain in his element

The scriptures heading out of the monastery and beginning their journey around the local community

This was the scene at the chorten in the middle of town as we passed by en route to my school

The lucky Class X and XII students enjoying the spectacle .......

and tea of course!

Monks turned comedians

Those who weren't invited but couldn't resist watching filled the balcony seats

The procession leaving the higher secondary school and heading off to the lower secondary school

Happy as a lark with not a thought of those looming board exams. Way to go!

This time even some of the lower secondary students who missed out at the monastery got their hands on those sacred scriptures

When the show is over roll up the carpets, pack up the drums and think about lunch!

Never any shortage of takers there in a boarding school.

Even comedians have to walk home and make the most of the community spirit to fill the donations bag

Sometimes young novices are left to their own devices in the town

Since I began with an exam report, let me finish with my favourite student quote from the papers thus far "11 or 12 species of curry" This was of course referring to the wonderful food served at the school picnic last month.

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