Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 55 - Bhutan: Day 2 Paying the Monk Tax, 3 years of Silence & more...

With 2 Buddhas, thousands of Gods and hundreds of thousands of saints, each corresponding to intricate stories and specific rituals, i.e subduing of the demons and spinning prayer wheels clockwise (see mini-prayer wheels below), etc, I can barely
absorb it all to distill it down to a few fun facts. But here's my best attempt at what I got for you....

* Meat eating Buddhists
* In the 1600's, there was a monk tax, which required each family to send 1 child to become a monk. While this has stopped, parents still can decide if they want their child to be a monk. I saw monks as young as 10yrs old! Remember, unlike the rest of SEA: once a monk, always a monk. No sex, drugs, alcohol, late sleep-ins or other un-monklike actions...
                                                             ...until perhaps your next life.

* 7000+ Stupas with Buddhist shrine temples holding invaluable antiques, jewels, gold buddah statues, etc, dating as far back as 7th century. It's forbidden to take photos inside, so I can only try to describe the interior. Sandalwood incense aroma, gold-plated columns, intricately carved & painted wood, Buddah & God shrines with gifts of packaged junk food, saffron infused holy water, altars decorated with colorful flowers made of butter,
1000+ Buddahs or paintings lined the walls of the 2-3 stories & colorful silk ties hang from the ceiling. Here's an example from a craft workshop: 


* Clockwise walking around stupas 108 times
* Reciting mantra prayers while counting beads or spinning prayer wheels clockwise 108 times

* Hoisting at least 108 prayer flags for the deceased to help the dead find the right path in the next life (although there's concerns that the forest will be gone within the next 20 years if this practice continues.


We started Day 2 with a hike up to the Tango Monastery (2400 meters) built by a 16th century monk. He is believed to have reincarnated into Desi Tenzin Ragye, who is now 18 years old and will become the next appointed head of monks once he completes his training. What does his training entail? Only  3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days of silent mediation. He has a few more years to go...

We visited the Buddha Dordenma statue, which will be the largest Buddha statue in the world once it's completed (169 feet). It will house over 100,000 Buddha statues.

We also stopped by a wildlife conservatory to see Bhutan's national animal, the Takin (mix between an ox and a Goat).

NEXT STOP: the phallus fascination

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