Bön in Bhutan

Discussion of the fifth religious tradition of Tibet.
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kalden yungdrung
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Bön in Bhutan

Post by kalden yungdrung » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:05 pm

Tashi delek,

Brief History on Monpa of Trongsa

The Monpa community of Langthel comprises of 3 villages namely, Jangbi, Phumzur and Wangling. The Monpa resides on the lower hills of Black Mountain Range under Langthel Geog The total population of Monpa is around 339, that is, Jangbi (69 and 12 HHs), Phumzur (140 and 22 HHs) and Wangling (130 and 18 HHs).

The Monpas of Wangling, Jangbi and Phumzur are homogeneous and a close community. They live and work in groups. Joint family system is prevalent in these villages. It is believed that Monpa of these three villages are the members of a huge family who got married to each others.
For hundreds of years, they have kept themselves isolated from the mainstream of Bhutanese society and was preserving their unique local culture and tradition.

Monpas were originally hunters and food gatherers, depending entirely on forest resources for their basic necessities. The Monpa culture, tradition and practices are all intrinsically linked to the natural environment. They do Tseri cultivation and rear some domestic animals.

The local dialect of Monpa is known as Mon Kha and does not hold any resemblance to any other dialects of Bhutan though it has roots in the Tibeto-Burman family like any other dialects of Bhutan. The cultural and traditions of Monpa are on the verge of extinction because of the outside cultural

The traditional dress of Monpa is called Pagay and used to be worn by all Monpas a few decades ago. Pagay is woven out of fibre from nettle plant. The food habit of Monpa is very simple and is mostly dependent on locally available natural resources. The staple foods of Monpa are maize
and rice. They buy rice from the income they earn after doing off farm labour. Most common vegetables eaten by Monpa are pumpkin, radish, brassica and egg plant.

Local wine, Bangchang made out of wheat, buckwheat, maize and some wild plant is drunk most of the times. Even, young children drink Bangchang with their food. Their main source of income is from bamboo products and off-farm labour. The principle farm produce of Monpas are
maize, wheat and buckwheat.

Bön was the main religion practiced by the Monpa before the advent of Buddhism. But they are still faithful adherents of Bön. The Monpas of these three villages do recounts stories of Guru Padmasambhava, visiting their villages on Guru’s way to Bumthang. Still, their faith on Bön remains undeterred. Altars are almost absent in the households of Monpa. Animal sacrifices were practiced until recently during the Bön rituals, though this practice is presently substituted by offering of boiled eggs.

It is noticed of late that most of the Monpas have begun to follow Buddhism; some have enrolled in the Monastic schools. Now they have lhakhangs each in their villages.

According to Bön, natural forces like forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, wind, sky, etc are the domains of spirits and disregarding these natural forces will lead to diseases and natural disasters. Therefore, preserving the environment, sacred and natural heritage sites are important and integral part of Bön.

During forest resource mapping, many sacred groves were identified in Wangling, Jangbi and Phumzur. It was considered a taboo to damage or cut trees from the groves/forest considered sacred, as these were considered domains of local deities termed locally as dueth. Similarly, big rocks and trees identified by their ancestors are also considered as domains of local deities like Sada and Neda and are kept protected. It is believed that if sacred groves are damaged, the local people suffer from illness and misfortunes.

Monpas perform ritual twice in a year that is, once in summer and winter welcoming rich harvest as well as to please the local deities by offering their first crops and Bangchang made out of it. Thirty two cups made of leaves filled with new crops is offered to the deities and the ritual performed by two Pawos.

The offering and the ritual symbolizes the welcoming of forthcoming harvest and people from all households celebrate by gathering, eating and drinking.

Monpas also perform annual rituals in their lhakhang by offering prayers to Guru Rimpoche. Religious offerings comprises of food, two cups of water, incense, white flowery seeds from the fruit of Oroxylum indica, butter lamps, one cup of rice, one cup of ara, one cup of Suja.
After one hour of offering prayers, they offer prayers with ara followed by offering of rice, fruits, puffed rice and other available edibles.
These offerings are also shared among the devotees for consumption. Prayers for a further period of half and hours is offered to express their gratitude as well as bid farewell to the god and deities.

The Monpas have a number of cultural and religious sites in their villages and some of them are:

1. Phumzur ( Phurba Zur): Phurba Zur means dorji and village and the site falls on the way to Phumzur village. It is believed by the Monpas as well as other people in the country that, Guru Padmasambhava had placed his Phurb while traveling through this place.
2. Ugyen Drak (Guru’s Cave): This is a place of great importance both to the Monpas as well as others. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava rested one night in this cave on the way to Nabji.
3. Uzha: This site is a rocky cliff with the mark of Guru’s head on it. It is believed to be very sacred by the local community and is located below the Phumzur Lhakhang.
4. Drupchu (Holy Water): This place is situated above the Phumzur Lhakhang and there is a big rock in the middle of which a hole is there. Water comes out of this hole and the local people believe that this was created by Guru. The area is dry except the water coming out of the rock.
5. Kubdra: It is believed that Guru Rinpoche arrived here to subdue the demons that were making stone balls in the woods of Kubdra. Guru disguised as donkey demonstrated miracle inserting his genital into the stone where marks can be still seen. The imprint of donkey’s hoof can also be seen at an archery range from there. At a distance of around 3kms away, there is a foot print of an elephant that came to pay humble submission to Guru Rinpoche. And even below the path about 1 km away, you will find angelic scripts (Khandro Dayig) and impression of a walking stick.

There are some footprints on solid rock which is believed to be the footprints of Angels who were with Guru Rinpoche. Phumzur Lhakhang is highly revered by Monpas as Guru Padmasambhava had passed by this site during his visit to Bhutan in the 8th century. This lhakhang has received statues and religious items from Kurje Lhakhang, Bumthang in 1999. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava visited Kurje, Phumzur, Kubdra and Nabji in the 8th century.

Monpas perform rituals for all these Nye (Sacred sites) in Phumzur lhakhang on the 10th and 15th of the first, second, sixth, eighth and tenth Bhutanese calendar month.

Traditional Healing:

A practice on traditional healing for both human and livestock is very popular in the Monpa community. They were found to use more than 30 species of medicinal plants for curing human and livestock diseases. In the three villages of Monpa, six Pamos and three Pawos were found to be practicing the power of traditional healing. It was also noticed that Pamo do not consume pork and eggs. They believe that eating pork and eggs would diminish their power of healing.

Most Monpas still prefer traditional practices to cure sickness. Superstitious and orthodox in nature, Monpas believe that the cause of sickness is not exactly due to their poor health, sanitation and hygiene but due to evil spirits and bad karma.

Marriage System:

Monpa parents do not play major role in the marital decisions of their children. They have equal preferences for both female and male child, though some would prefer daughters as they would remain at the parents’ home after marriage. Sons would go to their in laws house. Normally, when an eligible man finds a bride and they agree to marry, the man begins to live in the bride’s home. He continues to stay there as a family member and works for the house.

However, this trend of the groom living in the bride’s home is changing. It is increasingly observed that the relocation of a spouse in now primarily dependent on the shortage of working members in a house, wealth of the concerned families and their mutual agreement. After a courtship of three years, the bride’s parent sends a man to the groom’s house with the following message, “your son is in my house, his eyes are not blind, his legs and hands are not broken. Do you need him back?” If the groom’s parents do not want him, the boy continues to live in the bride’s home. If the groom’s parents want him back, they have to make an apology to the girl’s parents and go to the girl’s house with a changey (presents) and two men and then apologize.

These days, local wine has replaced cattle meat. After accepting apology, the groom’s parents take back their son and bride to their house. All their relative and neighbors are invited when an agreement is signed by the groom’s side which states that the daughter in law will not be mistreated and all property including cattle, house, land and any other assets in the house will be transferred to her name as the bride being the new owner of all these assets.

This also ensures that the boy does not divorce his wife. If the boy marries again, he moves out of the house leaving his property to his previous wife. The daughter in law can marry again and bring her new husband to the house. These days, land and property are given to one favorite son, daughter in law or are divided among the entire daughter in laws. Monpas are homogeneous and a close knit scoitey. Inter marriage with outsiders is very rare which ensures that their property remain within their families.

General Information:

1. One Community Primary School at Jangbi
2. A BHU at Jangbi
3. The nearest RNR extension center is located at Tongtohey which takes 1 day.
4. Bamboo and Cane nursery management, handicraft workshops on Bamboo products, Orchid project and a community trust fund were carried out by` Forestry Sector under Trongsa dzongkhag.
The best meditation is no meditation

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Bön in Bhutan

Post by kalden yungdrung » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:48 pm


http://balkhandshambhala.blogspot.nl/20 ... onism.html

Click to the left is Bhutan

Terry Feuerborn

These people are attending a Bön festival in the mountains near Paro. The Bön religion originated in Tibet and has its roots in pre-Buddhist religious practices that were characteristic of animistic and shamanist religious groups.

Persecution of the Bönpo people in Tibet caused many to emigrate to Nepal and Bhutan.
The best meditation is no meditation

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kalden yungdrung
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Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: Bön in Bhutan

Post by kalden yungdrung » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:28 pm

The best meditation is no meditation

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