15 June 2015

108 Prayer Flag Business- A Social Enterprise

In my last post I wrote about our tradition of offering 108 prayer flags for the departed souls, which means felling 108 young trees and therefore I proposed a green idea of making it a National service requirement ofeach Bhutanese citizen to plant 108 trees in one’s lifetime (within a given age range).

However, I stumbled onto another idea about the same issues and this time it’s a social business idea. Those of you who have physically gone through the process of finding, felling, peeling, and dragging 108 flag poles from deep woods over a long distance would know how arduous it is. Now, having to do it during the emotionally low time when you have lost someone in the family makes it heartbreaking. You would rather pay any cost to have someone else do it for you. Wouldn’t you?

Prayer Flag in the fields in Paro, Across my home

Now who could be that someone else? Here is the social business idea. We can build a social enterprise around this idea. There are already thousands of prayer flags standing along the hills in patches of clearings. They have done their job, prayers have faded and souls are delivered to heavens perhaps. What we could do is collect those old poles and store them up in warehouses in different regions and make sets of 108 poles ready to be delivered on a call and at a price.

During my difficult times, when my mother in-law passed away, I didn’t have the emotional, mental or physical strength to apply for pass from the forestry department, gather over twenty men and go deep into the woods to fetch that many poles. I remembered my good friend Tshering Tenzin, who knew the lam at Chhimi Lhakhang. I called him to help me because when his mother passed away we went there and the lam had kept more than 108 old poles ready. The same arrangement was made for me too. Amazingly it didn’t cost me anything though I would pay anything for such help.
Old flagpole at Chhimi Lhakhang
This social business will not only save bereaved families from any additional torment during difficult times but also safe trees greatly by reusing the poles for as long as they could last.

The enterprise can additionally explore new ways to replace flagpole with bamboo pole, metallic pole or any environmental friendly and economically sustainable options. 

And the good news is I am giving away this business idea to whoever wants to take it forward with the condition that you will aways keep it affordable. It's a social service more than business.

12 June 2015

108 Trees in a Lifetime for Citizenship

Bhutan's first ever Guinness World Record 'Most Trees Planted in an Hour' made a statement of our relation with trees. Perhaps it must be one of the most meaningful records ever set, and coming it from a small nation like ours is a huge pride. To make it the most memorable event ever it was dedicated to the celebration of the 60th birth Anniversary of our beloved fourth king, who has placed environment at the heart of our constitution and all of our national development plans.
"Coinciding with Social Forestry Day on June 2, a team of 100 volunteers got their hands deep in the ground to plant a total of 49,672 trees in just 60 minutes, smashing the previous record by nearly 10,000."- Guinness World Record
 The record required each man to plant over 8 trees per minute, god knows how they did that. I would like to congratulate the 100 super humans, the organiser Karma Tshering and everybody in the team for the making us so proud.

Our Guinness World Record inspired a green idea. If an ordinary Bhutanese has the potential of planting 500 trees in an hour, can every Bhutanese citizen plant at least 108 trees in a life time? Easily. Therefore I think it must be made a citizenship requirement to plant 108 trees to rightfully call yourself Bhutanese.

I heard in some countries you have to serve in the military for at least a year to fulfil your requirement as citizen, and in some countries you have to have voted in an election to have access to public services. Likewise I thought we Bhutanese could do more than just being born here.

I chose the auspicious number 108 because that's the exact numbers of young trees we cut down to offer prayer flags when someone dies. So 108 trees will be felled for each one of us regardless of our environmental morals. However, incase of non-buddhists the number could be viewed differently or changed to another significant number, because after all it's the tree we are placing at the centre.
The 108 prayer flags ...
If this is taken seriously our 70% forest cover can be maintained for ages without affecting the developmental activities because we have the potential of planting 75,600,000 tress with our current population alone and it's only going to grow. This is well beyond any record on the planet and Bhutan's greatest gift to the world.

09 June 2015

Archery Safety Measures: How to Handle the Weapon Safely

Today we saw another gruesome reminder of how dangerous the game of hybrid archery has become; the man seen on news today still had the arrow struck on his skull. God knows how he survived to see another day. He was among the luckiest few victims, while there were many who weren’t as fortunate.

In Bhutan, if we had statistics, we might find that arrow had killed more people than tiger, bear and leopard put together. In fact, once not very long ago, one arrow hit a member of parliament, as if to ask for intervention from the house.

If we check through newspapers and hospital records we won’t believe the amounted invested in evacuating and treating people hit by arrows. Only recently I remember two incidences where helicopters had to be deployed to evacuate the victims.

Hunting Weapon

It’s time to acknowledge that the hybrid archery played with foreign hunting weapons is not only dangerous but also economically and socially damaging. First of all this new games has threatened and totally confused the very identity and existence of our national game (Read Nawang P Phuntsho's The way out for our National Sports). The next generation of Bhutanese children will not even know that we had an indigenous game called archery. But I am not going to discuss much on its cultural, social, and economical impacts, which can be a huge subject all together.

The Dying National Game...

Let’s just look at the safety issues of the game. We know that the gaming equipment are imported weapons, which anyone with money can use without even looking at the experience. The archery playing fields have no significant safety measures in place, though it attracts huge crowd during tournaments. Most archery playing fields are located dangerously in public places.

In Paro there are incidences of stray arrows hitting people walking in the town, in Thimphu Changlimenthang if an arrow goes astray it can hit a footballer and you know how archery field occupies similar dangerous locations across the country. To make it worse, anyone with set of the gaming weapons can play in this critical locations.

What safety measure can be taken to avoid mishaps in this lethal game?

Relocate Archery playing fields away from populated areasMake it mandatory for all archery fields to have standard safety pavilions for spectatorsSince the equipment is a weapon, the owner must have license to own it. The arms license should be issued after thorough background check. No person with drinking history should be given the license.Apart from owner license, there should be a pass, which certifies a person to play. Like the driving license, if you aren’t experienced enough you should play in remote fields and not in public grounds.Alcohol should be ban from archery fields and defaulter should be rid of their playing pass.The tournament organizers should be held accountable for any mishaps during the tournament.Encourage private playing fields with lightings so that amateur players can practice at night.

My suggestions might sound a little crazy for the moment but considering the craziness of the games itself they are only reasonable. In fact total restriction should be imposed on import of such weapons, because we never know when it will be used beyond the gaming fields. It’s during such goods that we have to make tough decisions.

This morning a stray arrow hit an unsuspecting biker in Paro. How many more incidences should happen before we realize that the Weapon we use for the games is lethal and archery ranges in public spaces are dead traps? Isnt it enough example already?

01 June 2015

Being Responsible and Smart on Social Media

This is the transcript of the talk I gave to students in Yoezerling Higher Secondary School, Paro on May 30, 2015. The content of the speech is partially edited to suit the general readers on my blog but may still be relevant to just Bhutanese audience.

Good Morning. Respected Principal, teachers and dear students, thank you very much for being here this morning to listen to us. I would like to thank Media Club coordinator Madam Gyem Om for inviting us and considering us worth listening to.

My Name is Passang Tshering. I am a teacher at the Royal Academy.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk to this young group of people about something that’s handed to your generation as the greatest opportunity-The Social Media. But it’s opportunity only as long as you can handle it wisely.

Let me first define Social Media for you. There can be many difficult definitions but if I may put it in the simplest form. What’s media or Medium? It’s the means of mass communication. Think of TV, Radio and Newspaper. These are Medium of reaching out to mass. They are formal institutions run by trained people and governed by rules and regulations.

Now imagine each one of us having a newspaper of our own to write about everything we do, everything thing we like, and about people love. Imagine your own TV Channel to broadcast your family shows and your own music videos or a radio station on which you are the RJ… such mediums are called Social Media.

Facebook is your personal newspaper, your personal TV Channel, your personal Magazine. Likewise Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, WeChat, Sound Cloud, Google+ and thousand others.

Kuensel may be selling about 5000 copies if it gets lucky, BBS has the highest potential of 700,000 viewers, and all other Mass mediums in Bhutan have few thousand audiences. Now compare that to Facebook that has 1.44 billion active users. It’s over 2000 times bigger than Bhutan, with no borders and almost no rules. It’s your own world, it will grow everyday, and you can do whatever you wish. But remember 1.44 billion people out there can also do what ever they like.

There are some general terms of use beyond that the freedom is unlimited. The two big questions are how to use that freedom well and how to keep yourselves safe in the world that’s free.

Let me tell you my story, On Facebook I have reached my 5000 friends limit, therefore now I have started a Page. I have begun a virtual company called Bhutan Toilet Organization on Facebook. It’s doing very well and soon I can bring it out as a real organization. I have started a Business group on Facebook some years ago called bBay. It’s has 44,000 members now. From Tashigang to Samtse, Austerlia to Bangkok, bBay has made buying and selling very easy. Then I got an idea to let people advertise in my group and from there I earn 10,000 to 20,000 per month. Besides the money I earned I have earned name. Wherever I go there is at least one person in a group who would say, “You are PaSsu of bBay. Thank you man, your bBay has help me sell my car, you bBay has helped me find a land. Etc.”
I have also co-founded a group called Writers Association of Bhutan, in which we motivate young writers. Many of our members have published their own books. We plan to help writers write and get them connected to publishers. We have nearly 20,000 members.
I am also on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WeChat, and my personal favorite is my blog. I have a personal blog called PaSsu Diary. It’s a website in which I write stories related to family, school, society and sometime politics. People from different walks of life read my articles and among them I have found many friends. Newspapers take stories from my blog and print in their papers.

I was honest and sincere in my writings but at the same time I have been polite, respectful and talked about issues more than people. I justify my allegations and sometimes when I was wrong I apologized. I didn’t attack any individual personally; I didn’t insult or humiliate individuals. Sometimes when I had to write about certain individual I didn’t write their names.

But many people think being honest, sincere, critical and straightforward is same as being aggressive, arrogant, disrespectful and nasty. Actually it’s the opposite.

Because of my good behaviors on all the social media platforms I have been appointed as the first Social Media Monitor during the last election. The Chief Election Commissioner personally called me to be the Social Media Monitor. For six months I had two jobs.

I have been invited to many workshops to be speakers, such as SAARC Literature Fest, Mountain Echoes, Media Nomad etc. including this platform today. I have also received offers from big Hotels to be their guest and just say ‘I am here at hotel so and so’. One NGO called me to their office and gave me an iPad, Hard Drive, WiFi Station and many other devices and asked me to try them out. It’s actually a gift.

I have had the honour of visiting the office of the Prime Minister, and beyond all the honour of visiting Lingkana Palace.

I think I have done enough of Donkey praise but I hope you understood what I am trying to say. Social Media is a world of its own, and just like this practical world good behaviors is expected and rewarded. 

Now let me present to you the ugly side of Social Media. Like I told you millions of people are there in that free world. Just like in the real world there are good people and bad people; don’t worry about the good people. What type of Bad people would we find on social media- thieves, frauds, criminals, liars, bullies, rapists, murderers, and the list goes on. The biggest danger is their access to millions of innocent people right there on their screen. You can be their victim.
How do your protect yourselves? First, beware of strangers. Don’t just make friends with everybody. If you don’t know the person, and has no reason why he should be your friend just don’t accept requests.

If there are some nasty people who bother you all the time, remove them from your list of friends. Life is too short to waste with people who make you unhappy. Also avoid those people who are always negative, these people could influence you over time.

If someone tells you that he is going to send you parcel or money, just know that he is a fraud. Many Bhutanese fell victims to this sort of international scams. They will say that they have sent you iPhone, iPad etc. and also show you receipts. But soon they will say the parcel is struck somewhere in Bangkok or Calcutta. Then you will be made to send $500 -$1000. Some people I heard have sent over Nu.2 million believing in people who promised to build hotel in our country.

There are many other ways of people can cheat you, but you have to know just one important rule: if someone talks about money then that’s the clue, because no stranger will randomly send you money or diamond ring.

Anonymity is another issue on Internet. Most wrong doers on social media are anonymous. They hide their real identity, use fake names and pictures to do all the wrong things. They know we can never find them. Therefore, you have to be smart enough to know that some people you are dealing with on social media, whom you don’t know personally, are fake people.

The next important thing to remember is being mindful of what you post online and whom you share with. Good things are hard to notice, but bad things spread like wild fire, so be very careful about what you are putting online. Ask yourself, ‘Will I not regret after putting this up?’

Be mindful about doing anything with electronic devices in the first place. You mobile phone and laptops have many secret things you don’t know. You think you have deleted something but people can use simple software and retrieve it. And nowadays, these smart phones are connected to Cloud servers; every picture you take on your mobile automatically gets backed up on the cloud. The Cloud can be hacked or if you are not careful with your password people could sneak into all your files and pictures.

These days, if you are on Facebook, you will see many of your friends posting dirty pictures. The truth is they aren't doing it. In fact they themselves don’t see the pictures. It’s some sort of infected link that hacks into your account and misuses it. Therefore, you must be suspicious about unknown links anywhere on Internet. Clicking on such links is like giving them the key to your account.

Social Media is growing each day; opportunities are growing and danger is growing too. If there are things you are unsure about don’t take chances, just ask someone in school or at home. Never do something you are unsure of and never hesitate to seek help.

I would like to end here. If there are some areas left out we will cover during the question answer session. Thank you.

30 May 2015

Rainbow Over Yangthang

I am happy to announce that the Yangthang READ Centre was formally launched on May 27, 2015. This day shall be remembered as the beginning of a new era in my village and as the beginning of many good changes to come. Village elders came to me and placed their thumbs on my nose in appreciation.

They knew that the centre was funded and built by READ Bhutan and I had nothing significant to do with it but they were simply happy with me because they think I was one among very few who kept in touch with the roots back in the village and done something beyond mere annual visits.

With completion of Yangthang READ Centre, READ Bhutan has completed seven centres across Bhutan in their effort to improve quality of rural lives. On behalf of my village I have expressed our gratitude to READ Bhutan team, and I have asked Mr. Stevens, the READ Global’s Asia Regional Director, to convey the same to our sponsors, the students of Singapore American School (SAS), Singapore.

The centre in my village, like all other enters, has a Library, a Computer Lab, an Audiovisual Room, a Conference Room, a Women Section, a Child Section and an outdoor park. These seven services are like the colours of the rainbow that has finally fallen in my otherwise backward village.
The Rainbow

As believers of signs and symbolism, we were overjoyed when during the opening ceremony my village was haloed by a real rainbow. I personally took this as a very good omen.

Once Upon a Time

Then ....
and Finally now: The READ Centre
The Children in my village and villages nearby can visit the centre any time to use the service or just use the space for completing their assignments. Preschool children can come and play at the centre with educational manipulative while the parents are busy working in the field and forest. The elderly people can sit on the soft cushions in the AV room and watch TV all day (Most households don't have TV). And there will be regular training for women empowerment through skill training such as knitting, weaving and tailoring that will improve the quality of their lives. Health education for general public and creative sessions for children will happen from time to time. All good things are coming. 

The Library. Seen in pic are Mr. Stevens, Ms.Karma Lhazom and Mr. Nawang P.


The Thee Builders telling their tales
Our Funders, the students of Singapore American School (SAS), Singapore. Pic: Ganesh, READ Bhutan

During their visit in Spring. Pic Ganesh, READ Bhutan
I was given to speak at the end of the opening program during which I spoke a bit about the kind of childhood I had in the village. Though we were connected with road even before I was born our lifestyle was very primitive, and the kind of childhood games we played could shock anybody today. When I left my village to study in Paro, I was already in grade two but I still struggled with alphabets. It took me many years to catch up with the rest of the children of my age.

Another worrying factor in my village was the number of school dropouts. It's every family's good dream to see their children do well and live a meaningful life but somehow most of our children find it hard to cope with the rest of the students in their schools and finally give up and return to the village. 

Now I am hopeful that the centre will provide all the opportunities and exposure the lucky children get to my village children and make the next generation of Yangtobs ready the any kind of future that awaits them beyond our village.

My Special gratitude to my dear friend Nawang Phuntsho, through whom I knew about READ Bhutan and its activities, and for helping me and my village right from the beginning; Mr. Ganesh Chhetri for being their on the ground and working with the villagers during the entire period, and for all the positive energy he has shared with my folks; Ms. Karma Lhazom, the country director for being very supportive of the projects from day one. In fact her first official visit after her appointment was to my village. May the blessings of my villages elders and the local deities be with you throughout your lives. 

29 May 2015

Udumbara, the Mythical Flower in Yangthang Gonpa?

I heard about a mysterious flower growing in the compound of the Yangthang Gonpa that is located on the hill overlooking my village Yangthang. They told me that the flower was the mythical Udumbara. I have played in the courtyard of the Gonpa on many occasions as a young boy but I have never heard about any special plant growing there. 
Yangthang Gonpa, In its glorious form after the reconstruction that is funded by His Majesty.
The caretake Asha Kadi from my village, told me that the plant was believed to be brought there by a Tibetan Drupthob in the 15th Century. The Drupthob was on a lifelong pilgrimage and had promised to plant the last seed of the flower in the place he would end his journey. Yangthang Gonpa was where he was said to have ended his journey, before he returned to Tibet. Along with the flower seed he planted he also left behind a Tashigoma (Tashi-Gomang), which he had carried throughout his journey.

The Chest that holds the Drupthob's Tashigoma. One of the most beautiful Tashikoma I have ever seen (I have the picture of  the Tashigoma)

'Udumbara' is a Sanskrit word meaning 'An auspicious flower from heaven'. It's said that the pure and holy flower blooms once in every 3000 years. A buddhist scripture (The Huilin Phonetics, Vol 8) has this to say about the flower:
“Udumbara is the product of ominous and supernatural phenomena; it is a celestial flower and does not exist in the mundane world."
However, the mythical and mysterious flower, according to online sources, was sighted across the world in different countries. One popular claim is that the flower looks like a tiny white bell on a silken thread, with no leaves and nothing green on it. There are pictures taken by different people, available online. However, science has explained that the alleged flower was rather the egg of lacewing insect.

Another literature claims that Udumbara is the unseen flower of fig tree. It's 'unseen' because it blooms inside the fruit of the fig tree. Both the claims define Udumbara as a tiny little flower without leaves.

But the Udumbara at Yangthang Gonpa is a big green plant that could not be identified with any species of plant so far. It's said to bloom on the 15th day of the auspicious fourth month every year. This year, according to the belief, the flower should bloom on June 2 but the caretake Asha Kadi told me that on the night before His Majesty's visit to Yangthang Gonpa five petals opened. His Majesty has asked about the plant and also looked at the Tashigoma.

Until the plant is identified as another worldly plant, this is Udumbara. And if it's falsified then the myth will live on.
'Udumbara' of Yangthang Gonpa 

Top view of the Plant.

Asha Kadi explaining the Legend...
*If you know the ID of the plant I have posted please share with me in my comment box.

25 May 2015

Indian Cars with White Number Plates

It's said that the Nepal earthquake disaster was a big blow to Himalayan tourism, which seems to be true looking at the huge drop in the number of western tourists visiting us at this time of the year. However, it hasn't deterred Indian tourists. Thimphu and Paro are filled with Indian visitors these days. Along with them, countless Indian cars have entered deep into our country when we have enough of our own taxis and tourist cars lying idle this season.

Why are Indian tourists not taking Bhutanese cars?

The short answer is the affordability. Most Indian tourists love to travel cheap. But the bigger question is how could Indian cars offer such competitive price that the Bhutanese can't beat. There comes the logical reasoning. It's like buying one item from a legitimate shop at certain rate and another exactly same one from footpath at almost half the price. The footpath guy could sell at cheaper price because he didn't have to pay any form of tax.
 White Number Plate. Courtesy: Celex.co.in
There are two types of Indian Cars coming into our country, one with white number plate that are private cars and other with yellow number plate that are taxis. The yellow ones are rare, even across the border. Why would anyone want to register one's car as taxi and pay commercial taxes when one can easily use private cars as taxis. There must be regulations on paper but our neighbour across the border didn't find it necessary to bring that regulation on the street.

West Bengal Taxi, which is hard to see
Indian cars neither have to pay import tax, nor green tax, which places then at an advantage over Bhutanese cars. On top of that, without the mandate to register their cars as taxis, the cars with white number plates are bypassing every local tax in the land. This is how they easily beat our cars in the market. Nothing surprising.

Indian tourists don't have to pay $250 per day, in fact they don't spend that much during their entire tour. The tour operators across the borders use the cheapest hotels in Bhutan, and send in their own cars, thereby contributing almost nothing to our revenue. If carefully calculated, we might find out that they contribute more in polluting our air than building our economy. Not to mention the pressure the additional cars put on our fuel supply.

Considering all these, I feel our government should take a simple decision to disallow Indian cars beyond Rinchending (Kharbandi) or allow only those cars with yellow number plates, which is helping India curb the problem of illegal taxis. Any of the two decisions would compel the Indian tour operators to hire Bhutanese cars or tourist buses, contributing more to our economy and livelihood of people living on transport business.

One Bhutanese tour guide per group should be made mandatory for the safety of Indian visitors, to give them right guidance, sensitise them to the local culture and habits, especially while visiting the Dzongs and Lhakhangs. This will ensure that our visitors will have the best travelling experience, our roadsides will be clean, our culture respected and our tour guides have constant source of income. Happiness then is truly a place.

18 May 2015

The Picture of a Lifetime

My mother received the honour of offering tshogchang to His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and the Prime Minister during the tokha in Yangthang Tshakha. My mother would not have dreamt about a day even faintly close to this, to see their majesties up close, talk about her life and children, and pose for a photograph, with His Majesty's hand on her shoulder. 

This is a photo I will cherish for the rest of my time, the best moment in my mother's hard life.
My Mother with His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and the Prime Minister (Source: Ashi Jetsun Pema's official Fan Page)

12 May 2015

Portable Toilet

Last weekend I have finally met Lavish Madiya with whom I had shared my aspirations of bringing home prefab toilets. In fact we met online because of my very interest in toilets. He has just ventured out to produce exactly the thing I wanted, just some 30 km away from our Phuntsholing gate.

He has come to market his products in Thimphu, which includes among other things park benches, tiles, window frames, door frames etc (See his company site) but I went to meet him specifically to understand about the prefab toilet.
My Little one with the Little Toilet

His wife Neha, who's also a writer and social worker, used the cute little prototype to explain to me the composition, features and management of the prefab toilet. They knew I was their most potential client with no money. But they have seen Bhutan Toilet Organisation on the top of Google rating in Bhutan and knew how passionate I was about it. Neha kindly shared with me the basics of getting the organisation started because she has been part of many such initiatives in India.
Lavish and Neha

The real toilet they are intending to bring in will have:

  1. Net weight of 70kg 
  2. Everything is detachable
  3. Attached tank can be used by 25 people for a week
  4. But the tank can easily be connected to a styptic tank
  5. It will come with a water tap, wash basin, and urinal 
  6. Tallest person in Bhutan can easily stand inside it
  7. Can be customised for people with special needs
  8. But the scariest part is the price- without the tax it sells at about Nu.30,000 in India
Considering the cost and transportation of cement, bricks, toilet pot, pipes, basin, walls, roof, labour charges and time I am wondering if Nu.30,000 makes sense. But it will be a while before I figure out where the money is, and meanwhile I think tour companies and event managers could consider. If I succeed you will see these toilets at your service during events like Tshechu, trade fair, book fair, clock tower events, and may be at strategic location in populated communities.

By the way, I am told that during one of big events in past years we brought in quite a number of prefab toilets from China, can anyone please enlighten me on where and how they are kept? Lets use them, if they are still there.

If you are interested in Bhutan Toilet Organisation, please register yourselves as member (Click Here)
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04 May 2015

Bumchu Talozam and the Spiritual Copyrighted Songs

First, congratulations to Au Kencho Wangdi for successfully running four seasons of Druk Super Star singing contests and discovering many national treasures. I wish him health, knowing he has all the other factors in himself, to continue entertaining the nation and bringing out the best in our youths.

Among the many singing talentshe discovered, Bumchu Talozam has become a household name in the last many months. I have heard her name in towns and villages; I have seen people stop on the street and crowd over shop windows when she appeared on the TV, and I have seen humble villagers spend their hard earned money in voting for her.
Bumchu Talozam
Her melodies from Talo charmed the nation and rejuvenated people’s love for Zhungdra, which was earlier only appealing to the elders. Zhungdra was disappearing because of its difficulty in singing, slow pace, philosophical lyrics, length, and it could only go well with one musical instrument, Dramney. Younger generation found it hard to like, since our times, and had to be compelled into preserving it by making it a mandatory item on school stages.

But Bumchu Talozam suddenly made Zhungdra sound like a new genera and people started humming. History shall remember Kencho Wangdi and his treasure Talozam for the great Zhundgra Revolution.

Talking about history, it’s said that the reincarnations of Zhabdrung composed the songs Bumchu Talozam sang. Since 1705 four reincarnations of Zhabdrung lived in Talo; Zhabdrung Jigmi Drap, Zhabdrung Jigme Chogyel, Zhabdrung Jigme Norbu and Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji. I knew about this from a Bhutanese scholar who presented on Talo Tshechu during the 7th Colloquium on Culture and Environment in March 2015 at Kichu Resort.

The songs, believed to be very holy, were heard widely by the older generations from Ap Dopay, who is also from Talo. But it’s said that the songs though exceptionally melodious never went beyond Talo. Ap Dopay, a natural singing star never taught these songs to his students from outside Talo. It’s believed that Ap Dopay respected the spiritual copyright, a Kasho issued by one of the Zhabdrungs, which apparently said that the songs and dances from Talo should not be reproduced by any person or community outside Talo. (Need to find out which reincarnation of Zhabdrung)

Today, Bumchu Talozam won runners up prize and I am very happy for her. What she won from the show is far beyond any powertiller, she has spread the love and melodious history of Talo that was dying a natural death, and that without breaking the Zhabdrung Code (After all she is from Talo and it’s her spiritual right). She has become a cultural ambassador. She is Kencho Wangdi’s gift to the Nation.