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Celebrating life on National Day

Kengkhar, Mongar: With her gnarled hands folded in respect, and her wrinkled brows deep in concentration, Abi Pema Zangmo from Gomchu village in Kengkhar, Mongar was listening to the songs that were playing at the Kengkhar lower secondary school in Mongar to celebrate National Day.

The 72-year-old was among the hundreds, who had gathered at the remote village to celebrate the occasion, and also witness the culture show by four ethnic communities.

“I’ve never celebrated national day before, and I may not celebrate it again because of my old age,” she said. “But to celebrate the day this way is a divine experience for me.”

Themed “Celebrating life”, the cultural show was performed by three ethnic groups from the Lhop and Rai communities in Samtse, Ngalatrong in Zhemgang, and Kengkhar in Mongar.  The event was organised by the preserving and leveraging cultural diversity project, Helvetas Swiss inter-corporation and Tarayana foundation, and funded by the European Union.

One of the farmers, Sangay, said many people from the villages rushed to Kengkhar, after they heard about the ethnic groups’ show. “For many of us, it’s a good opportunity to know about each other’s culture,” he said.

The celebration also saw an exhibition of photographs taken by the students of Kengkhar lower secondary school, while the people of Kengkhar displayed their traditional bamboo products like palang (wine flask.)

Project manager of Leveraging Bhutan’s culture diversity, Kunzang Dorji, said the main objective of the event was to document both tangible and intangible forms of indigenous and traditional culture. “Students will also explore the local culture by interacting with the people,” he said. “ In the process, they’ll learn and know their living culture, legends and stories.”

One of the participants from the ethnic groups said it was a good experience to travel to Kengkhar and celebrate National Day. “We learnt a lot and exchanged our unique culture to each other,” Karma Tshering, from Lothokuchu Jigme village in Samtse, said.

By Dechen Tshering, Mongar

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