Monday, April 23, 2012

The coming of Ura Yakchoeth

Ura Yakchoeth, the annual festival of  Ura, coincides with 12th day of the 3rd Lunar month. And for this year as per western calender it falls on 3rdd May  and ends on 6th May. Ura village is located on the right side of Bumthang-Trashigang highway, at about 50km from proper Bumthang towards Trashigang, a short description about its location if anyone feels like attending the festival apart from those Urapas. The festival is known for the Singchang (local brewed beverage), indeed a good news for those  chaps who prefer to drink upto the brim for free. (here keep aside rupee crunch and wont even feel the ngultrum

Also if you have a will to meet with the master of humor, definitely not  Phurba Thinley, but The Old Man of Gaden. You will find him there as a MC.

Back at village, i presume all to be busy with festival preparation in one or the other way. Like:

Sonam Wangchuk: the village chief mask dancer along with his dance troupe, might be  busy practicing mask dances like Drametse Ngacham, Ging Tsholing, Sha zam, Sha Wa Sha Khee and Rak sha mangcham to name few. At this time of the year, if you happen to visit Ura valley and appropriately Ura Lhakhang ( temple) for pilgrimage or for tour, you will be welcomed with the sounds of drums, cymbals and periodic long howling like sound  followed by short shout from the chief dancer himself, signalling his troupes with change in pace and step of the dance. Also, don't be surprised!, if the temple Dhoshel (courtyard) happen to be silent, for they might be either painting their masks or else silently practicing dance steps without cymbals and drums, but with their verbal counts like barrrr drum, che sa che, ngye sa ngye etc.

Jamyang Nidup:  the village Ngyerpo (mess incharge), With a mouth full of doma (bettle nut), comfortably sat on a sheep skin mat, with his old knees covered by scarf like  clothe piece called Yathra (textile woven from sheeps wool with various pattern of flowers) might be measuring butter, rice and other cereal and necessary items that he asked his fellow villagers to contribute for the 5 day festival, making entry of every quantity he measured alongside the name of the person from each household.

Phuntsho Peldon: the village lead dancer cum singer, opens her plastic covered song book in the fluorescent light along with her village women dance troupe.  They memorize the lyrics as they tune their throats.  Most of the time, they gather in evenings, after their days work. She sometimes takes time to visit her predecessor, Ugyen Lhadron, for refinement of the tune as other ladies practice their dance steps. The songs and dances are performed without background music unlike those of RAPA's, yet you will be no short of melody, for you will be entertained with the finest vocals in the valley. Few native songs from this valley were being sang and recorded by RAPA and that only to be tuned to their comfort. So if you want to feel the originality, i suggest its the best time of the year to visit and with foreseen favorable weather, it will be a pleasant trip. 

Every year, as this date near,  those at village prepare themselves for the occasion of the year with every savings they made year before. Uraps far off, plans their biannual trip, the other one for annual ritual (lochoe). And those uraps like myself for one, wandering in foreign land, keeps wishing for another Yakchoeth. That very moment where you can drink plenty of singchang, sing and dance to your native folks tune and share those deliciously prepared foods by your mother and sister.
                                     HAPPY YAKCHOETH TO URAPAS!!!!!!

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