Khar-phued: The First Offering Ritual
  • Manage No, Sortation, Country, Writer ,Date, Copyright
    Manage No EE00002267
    Country Bhutan
    ICH Domain Social practices, rituals, festive events
    Dramaling-Nangar is one of the chiwogs (sub-block) under Tsamang Gewog (block), located 50 kilometers from the district headquarters (Mongar) in the direction of Tashigang-Thimphu Highway. A similar festival is celebrated in Tsamang, Banjar and Ganglapong villages of the same gewog. Saling and Thridangbi in the Saling gewog, Chali in the Chali gewog. Gungdu under Gungdu gewog under Mongar Dzongkhag (district) and some of the villages under Zhemgang Dzongkhag. However, the duration of the celebrations varies from village to village except for Tsamang village where the same number of days is allocated for the celebrations.
    Year of Designation 2022
Description The people of Drangmaling-Nangar village in Tsamang Gewog, Mongar Dzongkhag in the eastern district gather every two years to perform Khar-phued. Literally, dairy product; milk, curd, cheese, butter, etc. were used as offerings. In other words, Kar means "wheat", Phued means "offering" - it is the offering of the first wheat harvest. Kharphu is a Bon ritual festival used to pay homage to local deities and ensure the well-being of the community, its households, livestock and crops. Kharphu is celebrated from the 26th day of the fourth month to the 2nd day of the fifth month according to the Bhutanese calendar. The village elders trace the origin of this ancient festival to the days of the creation of earth and sky (sachag namchag), as they do not know the exact century of origin or when it was held. The program and its components have been entirely preserved and passed down through oral tradition. This includes the ritual nightly exchange of songs that extends throughout the week. Apparently, this festival is in great danger of being lost in the modern cultural landscape.
Social and cultural significance Khar-phued is the most dynamic festival for the villagers of Drangmaling-Nangar. It is a time of togetherness and celebration when those who have moved away return home and come together. For the farmers, it is a break from the seasonal work in the fields, enjoying delicious food, wearing fancy clothes and enjoying home-brewed sin-chang. It is believed that the Khar-phued immediately removes the obstacles faced by the community. The festival brings great luck in the form of healthy people and cattle, abundant food and harmonious life for the family. The Khar-phued festival preserves the sense of connection with a living and vibrant tradition and affirms the bond between man and God and between the communities of Drangmaling-Nangar. The text of the song performed on the first night states that the festival must be held at the same time and on the same date. However, once the villagers decided to postpone the festival due to unavoidable circumstances, according to Bonpo Ngawang Gyeltshen. There were misfortunes in the village, such as lower crop yields and numerous deaths of livestock, and it was believed that this was a manifestation of the deities not being able to please in time. For this reason, the villagers always adhere to the timing of what the ancestors performed at an annual festival. In short, the traditional festival ritual saves from disaster and protects the livelihood of the community. Obviously, people from this village make it possible to attend the festival even though they live in the city. They believe that if they do not participate, misfortunes may befall their family or property. Therefore, they attend to ensure prosperity for the next two years.
Transmission method In anticipation of the feast, the community, regardless of age, gladly gathers to celebrate the feast. The elders inherit the meaning and value associated with the feast. Whether young or old, they prepare the feast in one way or another. However, there is a danger that it will disappear as the younger generations move to the cities to earn a living and have better opportunities. On the 20th day of the fourth month, villagers gather in Lha-long, the "place of celebration," and prepare to brew sin-chang (locally brewed). The tseng-mi, the "guardian of wine", appointed the year before, coordinates with the bonpo, the "leader of chants", and begins all the methods of sin-chang brewing by chanting "Wa-Yo Hung". On the 26th day of the fourth month, on the eve of the first day, the pine tree called lha-shing "Tree of God" is collected with a painted wooden phallus and brought to the lha-long, and on the first night, the gamchen-dro "Song of the Bat", sent to invite God to earth, is recited all night long. The text tells the story of Khar-phued, starting from the moment of the creation of the universe. In the story, the one called Nye-thri-tsenpo was the first human being, another was a rich man named Chug-chen gyami-tong-dhen, and the third was an animal - Gam-chen- a bat. When the first sentient beings appeared on earth, there were no gods to pay homage to. So, three individuals agreed to take the responsibility of finding a god to worship and petitioning for their wishes to be fulfilled. While three of them agreed, it was the bat's responsibility to seek God in heaven. But since it did not want to go, it fled. Thereupon, two of them decided to search for the bat, and Nye-thri-tsenpo was sent to find the bat. After a long adventure, Nye-thri-tsenpo found the bat and was persuaded to go to heaven and invite God to earth. In this way, the festival tells a story in the form of songs and dances that young participants can easily learn and enjoy dancing. The seven-day festival depicts the hardships of the three people inviting God to earth, giving blessings to the community and its people, livestock and crops, and returning to the mountain world. One of the main principles, therefore, is to maintain and protect dramatic activities in and around the community through dance and storytelling, ceremonies and recitations of the verses in their own local dialect.
Community The Drangmaling-Nangar village has 21 households with a population of over 160 people in the community. The festival is mainly performed for the wellbeing of the cattle, crops and the people of the community, the people get together to celebrate the occasion contributing the required items like rice, vegetable, butter, cheese, curd, milk, Cin-chang (local brewed wine) etc and prepare for the offering at outdoor altar prepared at ha-long “the place of celebration”. When it comes to contribution, there is no standard thumb rule they have to contribute. The lyrics of the celebration song clearly states “if you don’t have, measure with Phued-ta (1.3 of Dre) if you have, measure with Drey (1.5 kilograms). This means, contribute what you have. The elder village residents say that this is the ceremonial event that ever existed in the village that brings all the population in this community together. However, there are chances of disappearing with modern amenities and socio-economic development. Further, rural-urban migration is the threat to transmission of the festival to the younger generation. Data collected by: Mr. Sonam Tenzin, NLAB.
Information source
National Library and Archives of Bhutan

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