As Bhutan observed Thrue-bab or the Blessed Rainy Day yesterday, three of my visually impaired friends and their families joined me at my house for a simple meal. Keeping in mind the spiritual significance of the day, we all chose to have a simple vegetarian meal to join the nation in observing this year’s Thrue-bab. Although the Blessed Rainy Day is traditionally supposed to be a feasting day for the common people as it marks the end of the farming season and the beginning of the harvesting season, it is also believed to be an auspicious and holy occasion for Buddhists. On this day, it is believed that the rain will be blest with elixir and has the supernatural power to cleanse all our sins and bad karma if we take bath during the most auspicious hour specified by renowned astrologers. So since it is a holy occasion, even those friends of mine who were not vegetarians agreed to stay clean for at least this Thrue-bab yesterday.
More important than feasting was the opportunity to get together among friends and family-members. In the hassles of busy urban life, it is becoming increasingly difficult to catch up even with the closest friends/relatives frequently today. So such an occasion gives us the opportunity to break away from our routine work and socialize with one another once in a while.
The main intention that brought us together yesterday was to have momo (dumlings) together. The ladies worked hard for several hours, chopping cabbages and onions, while the rest of us sat around chatting and enjoying locally brewed alcohol (ara). Although the entire process of preparing the momos took several hours, it was worth waiting for. At around 3 pm, we had delicious momos and we had a big time together. Even the children seemed to enjoy it very much.
Then we continued the day with our conversations, singing songs and other engagements. In the evening, we had another simple vegetarian dinner with delicious Ema Datshi, Jaju, ezay and papad before we dispersed. Although we couldn’t go for any outdoor fun, it was a special day for all of us. Without any nonvegetarian diet for the day, we felt clean and blest.
For me, the day also brought back some of my schoolday memories. When I was in Khaling, the Blessed Rainy Day always brought extraordinary excitement since it used to be the only real Losar celebration in the school. In the evening, we used to go around collecting nine different species of plants/flowers to prepare a bath for the early next day. We used to put all those collected plants in a bucket of water and we would keep it open outside with the belief that it would get blest with elixir at night. Then we would get up early in the morning and take bath with the water we had stored the previous night. After the bath, we would believe that all our sins were cleansed and we felt light and blest. All three meals of the day used to be very special and delicious. Since I used to be a nonvegetarian during those days, the meals with meat curries used to be a huge treat. During the day, our teachers used to often engage us in traditional games such as Khuru and Doego. Sometimes, they would even take us for fun walks and picnics. Today, although I have become a vegetarian, Thrue-bab still continues to be one of the most special and auspicious occasions for me. I feel sorry to myself that I could not go to the temple to offer prayers yesterday, but at least my wife offered a butterlamp in the morning in honor of the holy day. I know this can be my good memory with my friends that I can take forward with me.