22 September 2012

The Truth Behind 'Annual Bath' Jokes

Thruelbub is the day when all our water sources are believed to be blessed and because the blessing falls in the form of divine rain, thruelbub is translated into 'blessed rainy day'. Sometimes it's a sunny blessed rainy day. I see more sense in maintaining the word 'Thruelbub' even in English rather than trying to translate everything into foreign language as if we are predicting the extinction of own language.
Well, on 'thruelbub' every Bhutanese takes a cleansing bath with load of optimism that their body and soul will be purified and that all their sins will be washed away by the water that is blessed. There are religious texts that say how we sin everyday, knowingly and unknowingly and the implication of these sins in the afterlife, yet there is thruelbub that claims to purify us of all our sins, which could mean we could walk clean after the bath no matter how much we have sinned. It's toppling my beliefs, but I am sure if we use a good soap our bodies will stop stinking. For soul, it will take more than a bath in holy water.
There comes the popular joke that thruelbub is an annual bath for Bhutanese, and among good friends we send our greeting like, 'Finally the day has come for you to bathe, please don't miss it'. And some foreigners also assume that we only bathe on this day. It's not true anymore. We shower at least once in two to three days if not daily and even in villages bathing has become a weekly ritual. Therefore the 'annual bath' is an annual joke.
Photo by   John Wehrheim
But once upon a time, when we didn't have toilets, when we didn't have water supply in homes, and when electricity was not there- which is during my childhood in village, 'annual bath' wasn't a joke. I saw people washing their face sometimes, and washing their heads ahead of important occasions but I never saw anybody bathing. Thruelbub is not popular in my village but we have our own annual cleaning day, which is one day ahead of Lomba. On that day our river used to turn black. Every corner of the house gets cleaned, every piece of rag gets washed and every member of the family takes their turn in Menchhu tub. I can still smell the thick layer of cheese-like dirt floating on the wooden tubs. Well this is too much of 'selling my own village talks' but that was what used to happen not long ago. and like thruelbub we also believed that our souls will be purified.
If 'soul purification' value is not attached to the bathing then perhaps our folks would have never bothered to get themselves naked and wash their body fully any time in their lives. Thanks to the day, our folks bathed fully at least once annually.
Happy Thruelbub to all my readers. Optimism is good, but only goodness will purify your soul.


  1. I had fun going through the second part of story behind the 'Annual Bath" in Village. It is so true!

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