Outside Punakha we spent some time wandering through a massive gathering of 7000 – 8000 Bhutanese locals, yak herder nomads, people from all over the Kingdom gathered for the annual convocation of praying for peace. Every December they assemble under the direction of the Chief Abbot to pray and chant. The event is known as the World Peace Ceremony or the World Peace Mega Devotion. Amankora Resorts presents multiple cultural options every day for their guests to understand local life. The gentle people of Bhutan never seemed to mind our observing their daily habits.
The roads leading to the tented area was lined with pilgrims, nomads with their free roaming ponies and mules. Barbed wire fences served as temporary clotheslines for the visiting nomads who erect blue plastic tents in local fields. Men in their colorful traditional gho outfits, a knee length robe, gathered by a wide belt, long black socks and many in traditional black leather shoes. The women wearing ankle length skirts called kira topped with brightly colored silk jackets, the nomad women are more casually dressed, often with hand knitted sweaters from yak fur. Kids run free and weren’t shy about wanting to see their photos on my camera.
The Chief Abbot, the top religious officer in Bhutan, performed blessings and prayers for world peace over a loudspeaker, leading the assembly in chant and prayer. The devotees are sheltered under colorful painted tents, fed daily meals as they devote the18 days to praying for the world.
After returning home, I was grateful that a small Kingdom cares enough about others to pray for us.