Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Demolishing the Palace of the Tshomem

Tshomem (mermaid) is believed to be the keeper of water bodies. My school is on the bank of the Punatshangchhu, the river that has the legend of having a tshomem. Astrologers have repeatedly mentioned that the construction of the school has displeased the keeper of the river, but for the last fifteen years of existence school has done nothing to come into harmony with the spiritual power. The consistence disaster these few years forced the school to take the threat seriously.
We lost a boy to the river in 2009, the spot where astrologers said the mermaid lived. The same place was flooded the same year, washing away our fishery tank. An old woman committed suicide near the fishery tank. Over four cars accidents occurred on the adjoining road, of which one fell right into the river killing a young man. School faced fire disasters, theft cases, and even bomb pranks.  All this has reminded us to listen to the silence for once.
School, with the help from Dzongkhag Dratshang, picked the spot to construct a Tshomem Phodrang (palace of the mermaid), it's the traditional and spiritual negotiation of peace with the unseen owner of the place. Only the name is 'Palace', otherwise it's just a stone and mud structure, where no metal,cement and chalk can be used.
Site Map of School
However, in the twist of the story- in our quest to please the mermaid we have displeased a rich businessman in Bajothang. We have reached halfway through the construction of the palace, when the man came and claimed the stones we used. The well shaped stones were lying in the extended school campus for years and we knew the owner. But after we finished fencing the whole campus we had wrongly assumed our ownership over the stones. The construction committee had the intention of asking him, knowing that the old man would agree if we told him our story. But the angry rich man came twice and asked, "Do you think these shaped-stones emerged naturally? I have invested Nu.25 in shaping each stone. Nu.25 those days was powerful. I myself stole the stone from Nobding in the darkness of the night and you think you can use it at your will?"
School apologized, begged and asked him to be our patron for the construction of the palace but he remained angry. Then we asked him to put his price on the stone. We are already halfway and if he would give us at a reasonable price we thought we would buy. Teachers could contribute about Nu.10,000 to pay him up. But his price shocked us to demolish the palace right away. He wanted Nu.50 per stone, which means we should be paying him Nu.50,000 for half structure alone.
This school educated four of his children and his grandchildren will come here soon but he didn't want to spare some stones. This is the sort of public help our school is getting. If we had a legal support I have a feeling that the stone might belong to us after all these years, or may be he might have to pay us for keeping the stone in our area for so long.

Disclaimer: The views reflected in here are NOT School's, it's just my personal observation and interpretation of what is happening.

Update 7th April 2012

School helplessly demolished the structure built with those stones and rebuilt it with mud bricks. The construction committee engaged senior students and any helping hand they could get to erect the phodrang within three days, so we could consecrate it today during the school annual rimdro. Now the palace of the tshomem is built and consecrated as if nothing has happened. And we hope this brings peace to the invisible power and to the entire community of Bajothang.
The Palace of the Tshomem- built in three days

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