Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Sangbaykha- modernized but still indigenous

I am from Sangbaykha.

Sangbaykha, the place well known as the hidden land of Guru Rinpoche has got its little share of modern cake. Its population is very less, rather scattered and separated by unbalanced landscapes. There is no road connectivity and electricity yet. People are solely dependent on animals (like horses and mules) and their own stoutness for transportations.

The solar power supplied by Government has served the purposes of saving kerosene fuels and the kids no more have to inhale injurious burning fumes from kerosene lamps while studying. It was only two years back when the place was blessed with cellular network coverage. It is interesting to see even the illiterate folks back at village greet caller with the word ‘hello’ or ‘haalo’ or ‘heloooo’, regardless of what it means to them. I am very much pleased to see the positive changes and benefits reaped owing to its versatility compared to erstwhile wireless communication line used by our people. On the contrary, there are also negative impacts already felt and some still impending.

It is sacred place as far as I am concerned. Sangbaykha is still very unique from rest of the country with lots of notable positive local culture which are also integral part of national culture. Our accent of speaking slightly varies from so called ‘pure Dzongkha or zhungkha’ even though we speak ‘Dzongkha’ at home. Interestingly, there is also slight variation in accent amongst our own communities. Is our language dialect? I as a school boy often get scorned by friends from other parts of the country for variation in my accent. The societal pressure made me to feel that  speaking in Sangbeb's accent will defame me and simply not acceptable. Now, after pondering for so many years, I strongly feel that I should be proud to speak in our own way as it is unique and is our indigenous identity. No other people can speak in our accent and also whenever two Sangbebs  communicate in front of other people in our accent; it seems they are not able to capture our conversation. Isn’t it great?
We perform puja (rimdro) for well-being of all sentient beings bi-annually. The people are so good at heart that they strive to make offerings with whatever they have and sometimes even with limited availed loans. The most special occasion as far as individual house is concerned is their annual rimdro (termed as ‘lochoe’). The well prepared occasion will see guests from different communities adorned with colorful national dresses. One reason why I feel blessed to be Sangbeb is, we still, preserve national dress unlike in many other communities where we can see lots of guests and hosts alike in foreign dresses even on the rimdro day. Seriously speaking, I won’t dare to attend anybody’s rimdro without proper national dress even in most unfavorable situation. I salute my community and elders for instilling me with this value and I intend to impart same to younger generations.
Doesn’t this allow us to rate sangbebs above others in scale of culture preservance. Nonetheless, I have started seeing some gentlemen and ladies showcasing their branded pants and shirts during rimdro (lochoe) and few other traditional occasions. This worries me a lot, even though, I might appear bit nosy to point out this and actually have no intention to jibe anyone.

My dear youngsters please pay attention to this!!!

There is a bit of discrepancy serving meals during Lochoes. High ranked people and men are given special preference with most delicious curries. And also while distributing meats (mostly pork) male gets bigger share than children and woman. Traditionally zows (fried rice, beaten maize and rice, flour,etc) were distributed depending upon number of heads where each family will come with either plastic bag or piece of cloth to receive their share. This culture is by degrees getting substituted with modern way of keeping plateful of variety of zows in between for people around to eat. Isn’t this not killing our indigenious culture of taking our share of zow back at home and save some of the summer ordeals? This transition will also disallow housewives to analyse the palm-size of the person who serves (as one head will get a palm full of zow while serving one variety) which conventionally used to be good pastime for them to gossip at their field work.
Winter months will see busy schedule for all with lochoes sequentially performed. I see it serves many purposes; for well-being of all, relief farmers from their works, peaceful gathering, heartfelt offerings and consolidation of community-relations.
Now we see no meat served during lochoes. Bingo! Saving life is true Buddhist practice  This is yet another milestone. I have deep admiration for all our parents for paying heed to this initiative.

In a nutshell, the reasons for me to raise my head above others when I say, I am from Sangbaykha are the age old national dress is worn in all functional gatherings, rimdros and even when people go for work in the field. Our accent of speaking reserve some variance from others. We attend rimdro with much excitement in and the norm is very strong at base. We can still perform our traditional dances during occasions. Our people still have faith in each other.
Our family is still very cohesive. My friends who are privilidged to serve Government and other sectors are setting right precedence for all younsters. They are still active member of extended family and are serving parents and our community with great loyalty. Kudos to all Sombebs........


NB: These are my personal views. The culture I described in the text might vary slightly from that of other parts of Sombaykha as the text revolves around my own community.

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