Friday, May 11, 2012
(This story is dedicated to Mr. Lyonsang Tamsang, a writer, educationalist and specialist on Lepcha culture. Mr. Lyonsang Tamsang is currently the President of Lepcha Community in Kalimpong. He runs around 40 schools from his own resources to keep Lepcha language and culture alive. He publishes quarterly magazine called "Achuley" in English and Lepcha language. Lyonsang Tamsang is highly respected in his community and he has very high regard for Bhutanese people. This research is a tribute to Mr. Tamsang for commitment to research and his effort to keep the dying culture alive. I met Mr. Tamsang in 2011 when I went to New Delhi to present my writings and I would like to dedicate this Bhutanese version of the story called Damsang Gyelpo to him and his people)Damsang Gyelpo is a deity being appeased by the lepchas of Sikkim, Kalimpong and Himalayan regions. Sharing the frontier along the western border, many battles were fought between the Sikkimese and the Bhutanese in the past, especially during the reign of the Desi Tenzin Rabgye. Bhutanese were also known to be notorious because they raided the adjoining places for things that they wanted. During one such raid, the people of Pedong in Sikkim retaliated and chased back the Bhutanese as far as Punakha itself. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan during those days. The Bhutanese felt humiliated. They wanted to fight back but being aware of military strength of the lepchas, they decided to look at other means. They even consulted the astrologers until they came up with the following ideas. They sent two men pretending to make truce towards the camp of the lepcha leader. Once inside, they started talking about restoring peace between them. One of the Bhutanese offered half of the apple he was eating to the lepcha leader. The lepcha leader,not suspecting the foul play (since the Bhutanese was eating from the same apple) accepted the offer in good gesture but it proved to be very fatal since the one side of the blade of the sword was rubbed with poison. The Bhutanese man had offered the poisoned part to the lepcha leader and had eaten himself the other un-poisoned part. As soon as the lepcha leader ate the apple, he became unconscious and fell down on the ground with wrathful expression on his face. One of the men drew his sword and cut off the head of the lepcha leader. The head, as soon as it was cut off, flew off towards the lake of Rishi La, which bordered Sikkim and Bhutan and immersed itself into a lake. It is said that the lepcha leader avenged his death by haunting and killing the Bhutanese who traveled to Sikkim from Rishi La. Since then, Bhutanese stopped traveling to Sikkim via Rishi La. People, especially from Haa and Paro also started appeasing him with the sacrifice of yaks every year. In order to ward off the evils, the Bhutanese who later settled down in Sikkim built Sangchen Dorji Monastery. Encounter with the dead lepcha leader in Rishi la is also believed to leave the person mute and frightened for rest of his life. (Wooooo, it is scary and when I told the story to Mr. Tamsang, he really laughed. Interestingly, he had his own version of the story and he promised to send me one. So when it comes, I will post it here. I hope it makes a wonderful reading).