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.


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