Zhabrung Kuchoe was on April 23rd. Here are descriptions of the day from two of my students:
"I am from Khadam and I went to Khadam temple. We took butter lamps and gave it to the caretaker. We did prostration and went round the temple. Zhabdrung Kuchoe is the day our great leader of Bhutan expired. We have to celebrate this day because he brought peace to Bhutan. How? Because when he was not in Bhutan, there were many kings in one village. So, he made peace with the kings." ~Karma Lhazin
"In Zhabdrung Kuchoe I enjoyed a lot. First me and my family went to Yakgang Lakhang to pray to the god. It was the best day I ever had. Some says that when we do the good things in Zhabdrung Kuchoe, good luck will come to our family. When we went to the lakhang we found many different kinds of statue and we also did the prostration and we came back to Mongar at 4:30 p.m. I think that now good luck will come to our family." ~Kinley Wangmo
My neighbours invited me to join them to recognize the occasion by visiting a couple of temples. First we went to buy prayer flags, snacks and incense to offer. At the temple at Mongar Dzong, we did our prostrations and offered the snacks, incense and money. The monks served us tea while the lama did a sort of divining done with dice. One makes a wish, or puts an "intention" out there, the lama rolls the dice, and depending on the numbers that come up, he tells you what the chances are of that happening. You get three opportunities to roll the dice if you are not happy with the first two. I made my wish and rolled the dice. The first time I got 12, which was just okay, so I rolled again. The second time I got 9, which is the most auspicious number for that temple. I was happy with that. Also 9 x 12 = 108, which is also a very auspicious number. Things are looking good for my future!
Outside the temple, we turned the 144 prayer wheels, while thinking good thoughts. The first photo is my good friend and neighbour, Chundu. She is a wonderful friend, and has made me feel so at home here.
The second photo is me also turning the prayer wheels. For this occasion, Chundu lent me the rachu which I have over my shoulder. Since then she had one woven for me, a very special silk one. They are required for entering religious and government buildings.
Next is a group shot in front of the dzong, with a cop telling us we can't sit there.
A bunch of kids in front of Khadam Lakhang, which is the temple we visited next.
Inside that temple is a group of women turning huge prayer wheels.
On the hill outside the temple we hung prayer flags in the wind.
There is a photo of the only windpowered prayer wheel I have seen. I've seen a few waterpowered ones in creeks.
The next day at school there was a burlap bag of snacks which had been blessed and then brought down from the temple. Most of the snacks are not to my taste, but there were a few toffees buried in there. I said something about it being like Santa Claus' sack, but no one had ever heard of Santa Claus. I thought he went to all the good little girls and boys, and I could never figure out how he did all that. Now it is clear: he isn't going everywhere.