Sunday, January 19, 2014

A journey to Bidung

Bidung community, a photo taken from Bartsam by Brodie.

Bidung is a scattered village opposite Bartsam, in Tashigang Dzongkhag, at about 2400 m elevation. 
The Bidung temple (also ta dzong) sits on the slope, hidden from the other side of the same community by a huge hill covered by pine, oak and other high altitude plants. 
The rising of the early sun was shadowed by the hill until late morning. The temperature we experienced was below 0 degree centigrade in the morning and it rises to maximum of 13-14 degree centigrade at mid-day. 
The typical winter season in the village could be witnessed every morning as puddles of water turned into hard slippery ice, the shedding of the oak tree leaves in the afternoon, and the skeleton deciduous trees standing tall in the garden.
It takes roughly ten hours by bus to make it from Dewathang to Bidung. We travelled in a public mini bus which was quite old and not in good condition. We had to stop several times on the way to fix the bus. These unscheduled stops actually provided nice opportunities for our students to go out and enjoy the outside environment. The worst part, however, was when we got in an accident with a car. Luckily nothing happened to our students or the people in the other car.    
Bidung temple (Ta-dzong), in Tashigang: Photo Brodie
Almost all of our students were traveling for the first time away from the Institute. It has been a good opportunity for them to see the world beyond their restricted zone of the Institute. While there were a few students who felt traveling sickness most of them were normal and active. They were singing together and making fun of each other.
Looking left and right side with their eye brows raised through the transparent window of the mini bus and pointing to villages, birds and plants, I could tell they are really curious about the outside world.
They were curious to see the Melong Brak (Mirror cliff) which is considered a dangerous and very high cliff on the way to Tashigang from Samdrupjonkhar. They had heard from other people that many accidents take place in that area because the road is comparatively narrow and often has foggy weather.
Monks from Dewathang during Baza guru mantra recitation. Photo by Dawa
They also narrated the story that is behind the name of the river Neagra Ama Chu (roughly which means a river of the Indian mother). They said once an Indian lady was digging an hole to get water out of it and suddenly huge volume of water came out of it and the woman drowned. That was the beginning of the present river and hence how it got its name. They also narrated a story about Kholong chu.

We took our classes in a room of a traditional house that was reserved for us to stay during the mantra recitation ceremony. The two story house was filled with monks from our Shedra and lay people from another community. The room was not so convenient for teaching and learning because it was rectangular and the students sitting at the back seem far away and also the light was dim. We didn't have a white board, either, but we made the best of it, having conversation class, and had fun with them. 
We started our classes at 6 pm with Manjushri's prayer and three minutes of meditation. The classes went up to more than an hour every day. They were long and tiring days for all the monks because they have to be up by 5 am to go to the temple to start mantra recitation. They chant mantras until 4 to 5 pm followed by dinner and then class. Most of the young monks from Mustang group would often fall asleep during the class.

Lhomon Education