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Dying Culture of Crying…

During one of the religious gatherings of Sharchokpa women in Phuentsholing, I heard a woman say, “ When my father died, there were 18 people crying. But when her father died, there were only 4 people crying.” It would seem obvious for an outsider to say that it is only natural for people to cry when someone dies and there is nothing so fascinating about it.

However, if we had the opportunity to visit one of the grieving families at remote eastern Bhutan, we would have understood the intricacies associated with the culture of crying. When someone dies in eastern Bhutan, there would be someone or many people crying near the dead body. And the most beautiful  thing about it is that, they followed certain rhythm, rhyme and pattern. In fact, some villagers are known to have used the services of old women in the village who could create atmosphere of deep mourning. And it was perfected over long period of customary following. So it was believed that if there were more people crying, it was better for the dead person's soul . 

Associated with death again,  is the custom of  villagers and relatives bringing “Tokoray”. Tokoray is a pyramid shaped cooked dough mostly from millet. (It goes well with butter and ezay hahahahaha) . This is part of the meal for the visitors and relatives at grieving family’s house during death rituals apart from home brewed “ Ara” and coveted slice of cooked cow hide.

These customs are now finally dying. In fact many outsiders are known to ridicule the custom of crying near the dead as going against Buddhist values. And given improved economic conditions, people no longer want to take pyramid shaped “Tokoray” or serve cow hide. Even the villagers prefer beer over locally brewed ara and there we are…while we may have seen the reason to ridicule a custom of crying by the fellow villagers and community people today and make it perish. Years later, we may have to cry alone  that our own children were not there to help during our existence.


Gereme Granisky said…
Wow, this sounds very interesting. I am a student of anthropology. I am interested in studying this culture. Can we work on it together?

PaSsu said…
Culture of Crying sounds funny, but because I have experienced the pain of death in family early in life I know what it means to have people around in times of need even if they are not crying.
Every interesting piece on a Traditional Practice!
Sunita Chowan said…
Tshering, I think this is very sensitive note on traditional practice. You should make an effort to document complete details for future reference. Given huge number of articles and stories on customs, tradition and culture, we can only appreciate your effort. Great Going!!!!!

I look forward to meeting you in Agra this March.

Sunita Chowan
I think Crying culture is but unique and still prevails in the far flung villages, if not in the urban areas and i doubt if it will stay long!
I have a friend(for the information) from southern India who told me that his grandfather died at the age of 103 and instead of mourning, every family members gathered to party and celebrate because at least one of their family lived this long years!.. This isn't bad either i guess...
Susan Andrews said…
Hi Tshering,

Maybe it would be interesting to have documentary on culture of crying and be presented to the people when you have time? I am curious now.

Susan Andrews
Jamie Zenkopic said…
I still remember your truck parking girl presentation. It was really beautiful. I hope I will be able to follow your footsteps.

Sonam Tshomo said…
Jamie, I think Tshering was right about his hypothesis that Truck Parking Girl was suffering from inferiority complexion. I had my own taste of her venom.

Sonam Tshomo
Anonymous said…
U r in Nairobi and TPG is in India, when did u meet her?
Sonam Tshomo said…
When I was in Bhutan last December

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