We begin our day by going back to our respective farmhouses for breakfast and to help the children dress for school. Then we are invited to walk with the children to school or better yet, offer them a ride in our cars. The principal there has invited us into the classrooms so after the assembly in the courtyard where the children sing their national anthem and sing their morning prayer to the gods of wisdom we can follow them to their classrooms and interact with their teacher and classmates.
Talk about cultural emersion!
Then we return to the courtyard of the temple where village gomchens (lay monks) will perform several dances that they usually perform at the Domkhar Festival. This is a tremendous photo op since we are allowed into the dressing room to take close-ups of masks and gowns and allowed onto the cobblestones to get close-ups of spinning dancers. (Robin recommends you lay one shoulder on the ground on a car mat and use a wide angle lens to catch the dancers with both feet in the air.)
Then after lunch in the courtyard where we feed about 100 people a hot lunch (free food! So the villagers not working in their fields will all come to see what’s going on!) our crew of 16 guides and drivers will move to a nearby apple orchard and throw down the gauntlet to villagers in a game of kuru, or lawn darts as we call it in the West. After that they start up an archery match complete with village ladies wearing their best kiras singing and dancing folk songs off to the side. This is a remarkable photo op and cultural exchange that no other tour offers.
All of this special treatment by the villagers is rewarded by a $2,000 cash donation that the tour makes to their temple and festival. In the past they have used our donation to purchase new carved wood masks, new gowns and even rebuilt their temple kitchen after it was destroyed by fire. Also, Robin wrote a story about the Domkhar Festival that was published in the 2009 Spring issue of Tashi Delek—see the Rainbow web site to read that story in preparation to attending our special mini-festival to learn what the dances are all about. The Domkhar Lama, our friend of over 15 years, has recently been promoted to the head lama at Jakar Dzong and now oversees over fifty temples in the Bhumthang district and has helped arranged all of these special events.Then in the evening after dinner at the hotel we will all move to the archery grounds for a bonfire and awards ceremony. You, our guides and drivers and villagers will celebrate with folk dancing and singing into the night.