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The dancing brothers of Chamkhar

Family: If you have visited Chamkhar town in Bumthang, it is likely that you would have seen two men, in their late 80s, walking together along the road or loitering in the town.

Sometimes they entertain visitors with their unique dances.

Popularly known as Chengyala and Chudrula, the two differently-abled men are known figures in Chamkhar.

Even the stray dogs in the town are friendly with them.

While many Bumthang residents, especially children, tease them, many appreciate the strong bond the brothers share.

The two brothers can often be seen together basking in the sun and feeding the stray dogs in the town.

A Chamkhar resident said the two brothers always share their meals with each other.

Walking barefoot by the road they stop to beg for money.

They live in a one-storey house near Jakar Lhakang. The Tarayana Foundation constructed a house for them. Two dogs guard the house, barring anyone from entering the premises.

Chamkhar residents, who often feed the two brothers and give them clothes, say the twins are popular because they do not steal or cause problems. “They just beg, eat and entertain people,” a resident said.

Of the two brothers, the elder one, Chengyala, can mumble some words and he acts as a translator for his younger brother, Chudrula, using sign language.

They have their roles to run in the household and Chengyala said he fetches firewood while his younger brother does the cooking. “We make a point to be at home by evening,” he said.

Chengala claims that they have a sister and a brother but no one knows if it is true. Their mother died a few years back.

Chamkhar residents said that whenever the brothers have a misunderstanding, the town knows about it. This is because they are not together.

The two brothers usually roam around Camkhar town and can also be seen around the nearby lhakhangs in Bumthang during the rituals.

Asked if they still enjoyed dancing at their age, Chengala said they do it when they need money. “But many people now give money without making us dance,” he said. “They must be thinking that we are too old to dance.”

Nima Wangdi

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