Bhutan’s Thimphu Tshechu Festival!

One of the biggest annual festivals in Bhutan is the Thimphu Tshechu. Tshechu is a religious festival meaning “tenth day” held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country. This year the festival will take place between October 3rd – 5th in the capital city of Thimphu! This festival is in honour of Guru Rimpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. The Tshechu is also considered an occasion for praying and receiving blessings.

Photo Credit: Tourism Council of Bhutan
Photo Credit: Tourism Council of Bhutan

The highlight of Thimphu Tshechu is the showcase of ethnic folk dance in colourful costumes performed in the courtyard of the famous Tashichho Dzong. Many of the dances performed at the festival are designed to teach lessons about how one’s behaviour on earth affects the afterlife, while others are believed to influence the actions of the spirits or to purify sacred ground.

To learn more about the Thimphu Tshechu and to see a calender of events in Bhutan, visit the Tourism Council of Bhutan’s website!

Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana

Duechen Nga Zom is observed on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Bhutanese calendar yearly. In 2014, that date is Friday June 13 and is a National Holiday in Bhutan.

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Buddha Parinirvana or Duechen Nga Zom is considered one of the most auspicious days for Buddhists. Thousands of people across the Kingdom visit Dzongs, Lhakhangs, and Goendeys to offer prayers in commemoration of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and entry into Nirvana.

To learn more: Nation observes Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana

Celebrity Chef Explores Bhutan’s Culinary Traditions!

The Delhi based celebrity chef Kunal Kapur decided to extend his stay following the Mountain Echoes Festival in Bhutan to discover the country’s unique cuisine. Despite Bhutan’s size relative to its larger neighbours, Bhutan has managed to preserve its culinary traditions, proving it has a lot of knowledge to offer even the most experienced chefs!

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Traditional Bhutan Dish: Ema Datshi (Chillies with Cheese)
Photo Credit: Phorum Dalal

“It was a completely new cooking lesson for me. I had assumed the Bhutanese food would be heavily influenced by its three neighbours. But I was mistaken. It has a cuisine of its own,” says Kapur, “Bhutanese food, be it at the queen mother’s royal palace or on the road-side cart is humble, filling and nutritious; served by smiling people exuding a sense of happiness”. – Mid-day, A taste of Bhutan’s spicy cuisine

Archers of Bhutan (now on Youtube)

Tshering Choden was Bhutan’s first female archery player to compete at the Summer Olympic games, a role model for many Bhutanese young girls.

In 2004, Holger Riedel (Compass-Film) flew to Bhutan to follow Tshering Choden while she was preparing for the Olympic games in Athens. Holger produced the documentary Bhutan Bogenschutz for Olympia with assistance from Bhutan+partners. An English version was later produced and is now available on Youtube. Enjoy!!

Interested in teaching in Bhutan? Apply today! Learn more by joining us for an interactive webinar on Thursday May 29th at 6:00pm EST. Register online: http://bit.ly/TeachBhutanMay29

Blog of the Week – an auspicious year to tear down houses

Interested in a typical day in the life of a BCF teacher? Learn from Sarah’s wonderful account of her day to day, including waking up before 7, sharing kitchen scraps with cows, enjoying life with friends and colleagues, and longing for real coffee.

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There’s something ever so satisfying about putting effort into everyday basic activities that I take for absolute granted back home. I love that I make my shower and literally wash my laundry. I love that I know which garden everything in my kitchen comes from. I go to sleep on Sundays feeling satisfied. Thinking back to my life I know all too well and that I left back home, and how I’ve adapted to this completely foreign simplistic new life in ways I never thought imaginable, bring a smile to my face.

Some days I do long for my fancy espressos and hot showers, but this is how I have chosen to live. I strongly believe that anyone can live anywhere. And that’s pretty cool to be able to slide right into another life just like that last piece of a puzzle. And so here I sit on my mat outside my house, gazing out into the himalayas, watching my bucket laundry dry, as I slip into this alternate, beautifully seductive world.

Read Sarah’s full account at “Next year is an auspicious year to tear down houses.”

ILCS Vacancy Announcement

VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT

The Institute of Language and Culture Studies (ILCS), a campus of the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), is currently seeking a lecturer for its English Department. This opportunity is for a year-long contract beginning July 2014, with a possible option to renew.

Download full job description at ILCS Vacancy – April 2014.

Interested candidates – Please submit a cover letter and resume to Dawa Lhamo at dawalhamo.ilcs@rub.edu.bt

Destination Druk Yul 2: BCF Teacher Meet Up

Bajo is a newly planned town, located in Wangdiphodrang and serves as a meeting spot (and an urban setting) for our western-situated BCF teachers to connect, access internet, and purchase supplies and groceries.

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Ian Swift, Mike Lenzen, Bret Parrish, Sam Blyth, Karma Tshering,
Arwen Seccombe, Jessica Sanchez-Carreon, Vicky Chartres, Jenna Reynolds.

Bajo is the urban town for the surrounding communities and schools of Dechentsemo, Bjibjokha, Samtengang, and Gaselo.

We had the pleasure of arranging a lunch and social visit with several of the teachers in the region and also the Chairman and Founder of The Bhutan Canada Foundation, Sam Blyth. This allowed for an informal and enjoyable time for our teachers and staff to connect, share stories, discuss the positives and difficulties of teaching in Bhutan, and to just relax and process the incredible opportunity to be welcomed to live and teach in Bhutan.

The remaining BCF teachers who live in communities too far away to attend were sorely missed!!

Interested in Bajo? Check out Bajo and Bananas from BCF Alumni, Iman Mefleh.

http://imaninbhutan.blogspot.com/2012/03/bajo-and-bananas.html

Destination Druk Yul 2: Thimphu Town

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Here, at 7,874ft, is where you’ll encounter the hustle and bustle of Bhutan’s largest city, the capital Thimphu, with a population of nearly 100,000 and growing rapidly. In the past ten years alone, Thimphu has seen fast-paced development and a population boom, resulting in the beginning of traffic congestion and an influx of tourists. Thimphu works diligently to ensure that it’s growth is in-line with the concept of Gross National Happiness and sustainable development as it remains without any major commercial brand stores or fast food chains and continues the aura of an incredibly friendly and welcoming city, easy to get around, and with plenty to see and enjoy.

Our BCF teachers always begin their adventure in Thimphu as they attend a two-week orientation to acclimatise to the culture and environment and to set up their lives for the year ahead. Popular sites to note:

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Memorial Chorten is located on Doeboom Lam (the BCF Thimphu office is just up the hill!). The chorten was built in 1974 to honour the 3rd King of Bhutan, His Majesety Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and was commissioned by the King’s mother, Her Majesty Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck.

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Bhutan Textile Museum (at the end of Norzin Lam) promotes Bhutan’s achievements in the field of textile arts and encourages the continued tradition of weaving and traditional textile patterns. Textiles from the 1600s onwards abound with a rich display of ornate kiras and ghos.

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Buddha Dordenma Statue measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within and is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, overlooking the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley.

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Norzin Lam is the city’s main thoroughfare – in terms of activities and businesses and is always hopping (by Bhutanese standards). Along this road, you will find tourist souvenir shops, hotels, and the icon of Thimphu City – the traffic police managing vehicular movements at the busy intersection! (No traffic lights in Bhutan!).

Seasons

Seasons Pizzeria – one of the most popular food spots in Thimphu (with good reason!) specialising in creative and unique pizzas but also delicious baked goods. BCF Executive Director Nancy is such a fan that a pizza is even named after her!

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Ambient Café is another incredibly popular place for our BCF teachers and a regular hangout whenever they are in Thimphu. Not only for the free WiFi, strong coffee, and tasty snacks but for the incredible hospitality of the owners, husband and wife, Letho and Junu.

Interested in learning more about the fascinating and welcoming city of Thimphu? Check out the links below!
BCF Spotlight on Thimphu
Andrea Chisholm – First Impressions
Andrea Williams – Thimphu Map
Randall Krantz – Chilip’s Guide to Thimphu