While the people of Bumthang thronged the grounds of Tamzhing Lhakhang to receive the empowerment of Tsenmara at Tamzhing Phala Choepa on October 10, 50 people of Dhur community chose to stay back for a media literacy workshop.
Ugyen Tshomo had decided to go to the choepa but when the village tshogpa informed her about the workshop, she changed her mind and remained back in the village for the workshop. She said she had been attending the choepa every year but this year she wanted to learn new things about the media. She had earlier learnt that the media was a powerful tool for rural empowerment.
Ugyen Tshomo was one of the 50 villagers from Dhur who attended a day-long media literacy workshop conducted by Journalists’ Association of Bhutan (JAB).
A team from JAB briefed the participants on the importance of the media, responsible social media use, and the importance of reading advertisements critically.
Many community issues emerged during the workshop. Namgay, a former monk, said, “I was very excited when I heard about the media professionals from Thimphu visiting the village.” He believes that the media have the power to address the challenges people face.
Namgay said the gewog road is one of the challenges facing the village. The poor condition of the dirt road remains the same even after the change of three governments. “Despite the members of parliament promising blacktopping the road, nothing has happened,” he said.
The participants also raised concerns about the poor phone network in the village. They said the media could make the promises happen.
Even as 50 villagers discussed their pressing challenges, hundreds of others jostled to receive the blessings of Tsenmara on the last day of the three-day annual Tamzhing Phagla Choepa.
The empowerment ritual is locally known as Pakpa (leather bag) Wang, which is bestowed by getting hit or banged on the back with two leather sacks stuffed with hay and sacred relics.
The local people believe that the blessing from the bags drives away and protects one from evil spirits and influences.
The annual Tamzhing Phagla Choepa is a festival associated with the construction of the Tamzhing Monastery in the 16th century by Terton Pema Lingpa and his protecting deity, Dorji Phagmo.
Contributed by Sangay Choki