Birthday in Bhutan

A touch of birthday buddhism

(Dana) By definition, travelling for a full year means that we each get to celebrate one birthday on the road: Emma celebrated with her “birthday elephant” as he crashed through the campsite in Purros, Namibia, Alex became a “peasant for a day” in Vietnam, learning how to grow vegetables and fish using age-old methods, and I had a Birthday Puja led by Buddhists monks in Bhutan.

Actually, my birthday spanned 3 days in Bhutan. On the first, I drank homemade Ara distilled from fermented corn as we stayed in a very rural farmhouse with no electricity or plumbing. My new “Ara Charro” (ara friend) Rinzin toasted me with 3 cups of ara until I was allowed to politely decline anymore. Apparently, 3 cups of ara is just like 3 cups of tea – the first you are a stranger, the second you are a guest and the third you are family.

Dana swoons as the kids belt out a version of Happy Birthday

The next day, we visited the local Yadi District elementary/middle school of 600 adorable, hard-working children. Turns out it was a special day – the annual Puja that celebrates the school and its continued success. After the religious ceremony, our 4 kids sang a few songs for the colorfully-clad student body. In thanks, they joined Alex in singing “Happy Birthday” to me! (see the video below)

Finally, several monks from the Ranjung monastery came to our hotel to perform a final Puja, both for my birthday and our departure from Bhutan. Chanting in Sanskrit and accompanied by horns, drums and cymbals, the mantras blessed me with long-life and all of us with prosperous and happy lives and safe travels. Each of the monks and all of the staff bestowed upon me white, blessed scarves. My birthday cake was then shared with 6 appreciative monks!

What a memorable birthday! Poor Greg. His birthday was the next day. What did he get? A 10.5 hour drive descending 7000 feet of elevation over bumpy, windy, rock-strewn roads. And the boys? Tune in in a few weeks.

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One Response to “Birthday in Bhutan”

  1. Dana:

    Happy Birthday to You….

    Chip & Ford