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Fun Fact Friday: Bhutan (with poll)

Happy Friday everyone! My Bhutanese Fun Facts got a little … er … racy this week. My apologies, in advance. I made every effort to keep things PG 13. Enjoy!

When falling of a cliff is a good thing…

In parts of eastern Bhutan it is forbidden to kill an animal. However, if the animal falls of a cliff and dies, then the meat can be consumed.

Cooking is simple when the main ingredient is always the same…

Most meals have chili peppers in them, which can be bought in abundance at the markets.

You can’t smoke, but you can still get cancer…

The sale of tobacco is banned in Bhutan (no other country in the world has done this). Instead they chew Doma (this is a blend of areca nut on a betel leaf with a sprinkle of tsune/lime – or calcium carbonate). Doma is chewed after eating to freshen breath. The crunchy concoction is often offered to guests and is considered an ice-breaker. Unfortunately, the blood-red juices cause cancer and other ailments.

Want to watch The Next FoodNetwork Star? …

Bhutan was the last country in the world to get TV – they let cable in the borders in 1999. But they only got 45 channels, and unfortunately they did not include the Food Network. By 2004, many of the original 45 channels were banned for excessive violence and ludeness, dropping the number of allowed networks to 33. Since that time, only 3 have been reinstated.

Death becomes her…

When someone dies in Bhutan the daughter is given the inheritance, not the son. In addition, the daughter usually inherits her parents house while the son is expected to figure it out. Usually he moves into his wife’s home.

I’m guessing Windex doesn’t sell very well in Bhutan…

Glass panes are rare in rural Bhutan and sliding wooden shutters are used instead to close the window.

And, finally, nothing like a phallus to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune…

In eastern Bhutan, farmers hang a wooden phallus in the fields when the crops begin to sprout.

Phallic images are painted on the exterior of Bhutanese homes and wooden carvings are hung at the corners of the roof. The startling tradition is done to keep demons away and, what else, to encourage fertility and prosperity. Here’s a detailed description of the ritual:

Inauguration of a new house is a sort of phallic ritual whereby the house owner consecrates the house. The ritual is an elaborate one. The ritual constitutes placing of four phalluses on the four eaves of the house facing the four directions and one inside the house. The five giant phalluses carved out from pieces of wood are tied together in a bundle and then put in a bamboo basket. Usually, a young and virgin girl dressed elaborately and leading a dancing and singing troupe carries the basket and circumambulates the house thrice.

Then groups of men and women are formed. The women’s group stands under the eave of the house facing the east while the male group climbs up on the roof. The basket is tied on the middle of the rope and a tug of war ensues. While men pull the basket roof-ward, the women pretend to pull it to the ground. But the common understanding is that the basket will have to reach the roof at the end so that the phalluses can be hung from the eaves. The pulling begins and continues as typical phallic songs are sung. After every verse of the song the people watching the ritual echo the word laso.

The men pretend to lose the battle and the basket is pulled down. At this, the owner of the house serves ara (home brewed spirit) to the men who pretend to be tired. The ara is supposed to energize the men and the ‘pulling’ battle continues.

Keys to Bhutan

In the interest of keeping my blog PG 13, I’m not going to put a picture. But I know you want to see one. Don’t you?


5 Responses

  1. a film you might like….

    Best film ever made by a Buddhist monk in Bhutan

    And as far as I know, the only one, but it was lovely. A civil servant in a small village in Bhutan dreams of going to America, because, he says, you can get any job you like and become rich. He gets a chance; a visa is his if he can make it to Thimpu in two days. He misses the bus, he must hitchhike. Oblivious to his lovely mountain surroundings, he frets and smokes and paces and listens to rock music as he waits for a ride. He’s joined by an old farmer, a Buddhist monk, a rice-paper maker and his pretty daughter and they pass the days telling stories. Slowly their patience and joy seeps into the impatient civil servant; by the end of it he just might stay in Bhutan. Put this on your Netflix queue. Brian


  2. I once had the “Bhut Jolokia” chili supposedly the hottest chili in the world found in north east region of India. Recently read that people are trying to use it for making weapons.

  3. hey, saw your link on Flylady’s email and had to come by and say congrats! We can all lay eyes on your dream. Hope some God breezes take you on a journey you’ll look on with wonder.

    Your blog is wonderful, interesting, friendly, you are growing as you explore and your readers are too. What could be better. I know the effort needed to keep up a regular blog and all the contacts and friends one makes all over the globe, and I am so excited to see what you are doing. Wishing you continued great adventures as you eat your way around the world.

    I live in a city known for its great food and restaurants, and although it is not something I ever focus on, I do keep aware of what’s up in the foodie world here. I have blogging friends all over the world who share a photo a day from their cities, and it’s wonderful to see their food shots and sometimes recipes they share. I learn so much about so many cultures. I look forward to checking in on you regularly.
    All the best,

  4. Read your testimonial on Flylady. I can so identify with you. I was wondering what writers group you were a part of? Great blog btw!

  5. Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for supplying these details.

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