25 February, 2021

Reamy Uddhists

Reamy Uddhists
A bit like Glastonbury without the drugs," is how Englishman Steve, an earnest pseudo-Buddhist, described it. We met in a muddy field at the Tashiding monastery for the Bumchu festival, an annual event thronged by thousands of pilgrims from Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, China and India.

The comparison with Glastonbury, the biggest music festival in England, was understandable. It's a dazzling display of spaced-out New Age babes, rock 'n' roll, muddy fields, collapsing tents, bedraggled characters in drug-induced bliss, stalls selling tie-dye hot-pants, hair-beads and inedible vegetarian food. They were major highlights of my student years—bunking-off assignments for a hedonistic week.

In Tashiding, the tents were there, mud an' all, the blissful characters murmuring and spinning prayer-wheels with a wonderful feeling of harmony, as only the Buddhists have mastered. Unfortunately, the only sustenance available was pork momos and chaang (local brew), contradicting my assumptions that all Buddhists were vegetarians and teetotallers. I must have been the only...

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