It was in the year 1968 when the diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan got kickstarted with the peninsular nation setting up a resident representative in Thimpu. When Narendra Modi chose Bhutan as his first foreign destination(as the Prime Minister of India), it was clear that this friendship can only become stronger.
From the time I have heard about the rich culture that Bhutanese possess and their expertise in traditional medicine, I have always wanted to see it for myself. And when that opportunity came knocking at the door, I cleared its way.
2018, being the 50th year of the strong ties between the two nations, has been decided to be commemorated. A flurry of events is set to take place in both the countries. Organized in the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA), New Delhi, one of them is the Bhutan Week(23th to 30th September 2018). I decided to visit their showcase of culture, movies, tradition, craftsmanship, architecture and gastronomy on the fourth day, a Thursday.
The main gate had been well lit up by inscriptions with just the text welcome kept out of symmetry.
Once entered, I got greeted by the volunteers from Bhutan who gave me a pamphlet about the event. A Bhutanese kid was seating on the ground. When I asked him how do we say thank you in Bhutanese, he calmly stood up and informed me about the word(Kadrin chhe la). His composure was remarkable. The place was beautifully set up with posters of people from Bhutan sparkling the atmosphere.
Then, there was a part of IGNCA solely devoted to the miniatures of popular sacred sites and temple complexes of Bhutan. A structure also talked about the ‘rammed Earth technique’, which along with Bhutan, several other countries use for their wall creation.
In the next section, I got to witness the Bhutanese traditional medicine system. It was great conversing with the host of one of the stalls in that area. “Bhutan is one of the most sought-after locations for traditional medication”, he told me. While discussing the influence of the two countries over each other, he said, “women in Bhutan watch the daily Indian soap operas, Bollywood is very popular!”. When asked if they are facing any challenges in India, he added, “In Delhi, the temperature is very high, the only hurdle we are facing“. I was about to leave by saying, Kadrin Chey la, after which he stopped me and added a couple more words to my Dzongkha(Bhutanese script) dictionary!
A full segment had been dedicated to Bhutanese craft and the travel agents from that place. With a decent pace, I tried to cover the stalls at the earliest for I still had a few more sections to visit. At one of the ‘keychains and bags shops’, the attendant looked a touch in discomfort. So I asked her if she was alright, “the heat is taking its toll, we are not used to this temperature, other than that we love coming to Delhi“.
The travel agent informed me about their international airport. He told me that the country hosts four airports, with Paro being their only international one. He said flights are available to Delhi and Kolkata from Paro, via Kathmandu(Nepal). He also invited me to visit Punakha, the only rafting site in Bhutan.
It was afternoon by then and began the time for some munching. The food section was full of delicacies. There was Red Rice, White Rice, Jaju(Bhutanese variant of Indian dal as exclaimed by the server ) for the vegetarians and Yak, Pork(with potatoes) meat for the meatatarian. The water(Royal Bhutan) was transported from Bhutan too!
The cultural evening was laced up with a singing performance and a Dance of Liberation. I was able to catch only a few glimpses of them, as I had already missed a large chunk of the show.
The closing part of the day came with the screening of the movie, titled, Gyalsey: Legacy of a Prince. Most of the people in the crowd were the ones who have had hosted the stalls all day. They finally found themselves with some leisure time. They were full of life, laughing whole-heartedly at every joke in the film or even a bad attempt at it!
Though, I am yet to visit the Land of the Thunder Dragon, I am sure that with this rendezvous, I have certainly flipped over a page or two from which otherwise is a long trail!
There is still one more day of the event to go(30th September 2018). I would highly recommend the readers to take out a few hours or so and give the amazing setting a tour. RUSH!