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Let the people decide

Resolving the issue of meat/alcohol during rituals and last rites will warrant popular support

Culture: Mongar dzongkhag tshogdu on March 26 decided to consult the people first on whether the use of meat and alcohol during rituals and funerals should be discontinued.

Drepong gup Sangay Tenzin raised the issue, saying that, irrespective of their economic status, everyone spent a lot on performing elaborate rituals for the dead, which have today become an expensive affair. “If the members agree, the decision would help the poor from spending on meat and alcohol,” he said.

A huge chunk of the expense goes into buying meat to serve the guests, while a substantial grain harvest is brewed into local alcohol.  For beer alone, farmers spend more than Nu 40,000. “The practice of serving alcohol, both local and imported, needs to stop during funerals,” the gup said.

Tsakaling mangmi, Tashi La, shared the gewog’s success in implementing this practice for the last two years, where all rituals are held without meat and alcohol. “This happened after gewogs officials consulted the people,” Tashi La said.

However, Saling gup Sonam Yeshi said that making rules to stop people from using meat and alcohol is easier said than done. “Guests won’t enjoy meals when these items aren’t served,” Sonam Yeshi said. From the religious point of view too, he said that offering alcohol and meat aren’t prohibited. “So we have to discuss with people before taking a resolution,” he said.

Ngatshang gup Phuntsho reminded the house that since the ‘90s, the national assembly had passed a resolution on prohibiting the use of alcohol in any rituals. “But that however didn’t stop people from serving both alcohol and meat,” he said.

Mongar dzongda Sherab Tenzin suggested that local leaders first consult the people, hold awareness programs, and coordinate talks with the monastic community on the impact of serving meat and alcohol during rituals.

Drametsi gup Tshering Dorji also said that, if the DT resolved to prohibit these items, then it could affect the rights of the people.

The DT resolved that the issue be discussed in the next session.

By Tashi Phuntsho

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