|Geywaringa - fortress of the five goddess sisters|
Buddhists believe that the mountains, vales, rivers, trees, rocky face and many of the nature formations are but the residence of certain spirits. Like the human who need roof over head to protect ourselves from shine and shower, the deities, demigod and other spirit do also need the place which they can call home.
Putting harm to these so-called homes of the spirits by ways of disturbing their surrounding serenity, cutting down trees is considered to cause annoyance of such invisible owners and inflict sickness and even death.
"Like we human do, the deities, demigod and other spirit do also need the place which they can call home"
If the rock in Chasilakha in Bongo could withstand all the force of the bombs in an effort to demolish it and the rocky cliff at Wangsisina refuse to come down to rubble during the widening of Thimphu – Phuntsholing national highway, it merely is not a superstitions to believe that deities, demigod and spirit does exist. Infact, these unimaginable showcasing of feats only tells us that we can rather co-exist with them.
"The human provide offerings and even animal sacrifices, in return they provide bountiful harvest, timely rain and less disease and famine"
And yes from the time immemorial, the human and the spirits have lived harmoniously. The connection dates back to the time when people lived in the clearings among the jungles. Surrounded by mountains, with rivers flowing beneath the village, the co-existence wasn’t a coincidental but something which circumstances has compelled the duo. The human provided them food, water and even animal sacrifices, in return they provided bountiful harvest, timely rain and less disease and famine in the villages. However, with coming of modernization, trees are cut down without any respect, cliffs are bull dozed, rivers are diverted.
"The location of the village is such that it has its back to the cliff (bja) and front to the river (chhu)"
However, little has the modernization to do with the people of Bjabcho under Chhukha Dzongkhag and the resident deity of the Geywaringa. According to Penjor Dorji, the serving Gup, the village in the past was called as Bjachhu. This he said is because of the location of the village is such that it has its back to the cliff (bja) and faces the river (chhu). The cliff at the back of the village is the home of their Yuelha - Geywaringa deity who has assisted, protected, helped and benefited the village for long time.
"They still remain dictated, guided, protected and assisted by their mundane deity"
Today the village is connected by 5 kilometres farm road. The telecommunication facilities have been introduced and even mobile network is easily accessible. Every households is well lighted with electricity, clean drinking water is at their easy disposal. However, people of the village never got intoxicated by the ill force of modernization that they still remain dictated, guided, protected and assisted by their mundane deity.
"The mountain projection is sequenced in such a manner that all has almost the equal height, the same appearance and are arranged perfectly"
The mountain projection is sequenced in such a manner that all has almost the equal height, the same appearance and are arranged perfectly. However, according to Ap Sangchu who in his time of childhood as cow herder happened to visit the base of the five mountain going after stray cattle, actual base of the mountain, one can see that it is not arranged in linear but in circular form. He said, “one can also get the best and most authentic Sangzey Khengkha (white grass burnt as incense which gives very perfumed odour).
This, Ap Sangchu the resident of the village narrates that in the olden days when the deities and spirits appeared in real form, the Jom Laudra, the deity from Paro which they say is the relatives of Geywaringna paid a visit with Sangzey Khengkha as the gift. This is how it is only in the vicinity of the mountain that such pure form of incense grass is known to grow even today.
“You better clean yourself if you are heading this way”
Few, those fortunate and ofcourse the uncontaminated human without having any impurities can visit the abode of the deity. If someone in contact with birth, death, women and other impurities happen to even linger half a kilometer from the mountain abode, the mist, low hanging thick fog is predicted. Soon it will rain cats and dog as if to warn, “you better clean yourself if you are heading this way”. The mountains are said to be guarded by Genze, the red faced chamberlain to the main deity, Geywaringna.
The mountains are easily visible from the village. The first glance makes it look like the deity is keeping the close watch over the people in the village because it is almost towering the village. The ‘Neygho’ entrance to the hidden land is also very much visible in the centre mountain in the clear rocky face. It just takes couple of hours to be there and Ap Namgay, another oldie of the village tried it. He said, “I tried locating the entrance but it is not at all present when we actually go near the mountain”. He added, “only those with prophesy can find the door and access the world hidden among the rocky cliff”.
"The sounds of ritual chanting, the beat of the ceremonial drums and cymbals clearly reverberated inside the cave"
Oral narration says that Trulku Tsitrum Namgay was one destined to explore it. People say that the Lam purposely visited the abode. He was enthralled to find that the world existed underneath the world. The sounds of ritual chanting, the beat of the ceremonial drums and cymbals clearly reverberated inside the cave. Returning to the village, he gifted the people with Doma (betelnut) which he was served inside the cave.
Aum Wolham said “People from far and near comes to seek the assistance of the fearful mundane mountain deity during archery matches and any other competitions. None has been on the loser side. This is astonishing”
"The tree is also respected as Lhashing and cannot be plucked even a leaf of it"
In reciprocation to the assistance, protection he renders to those living in his jurisdiction area, the people propitiate in one of the month of the Bhutanese Calendar. The propitiation is usually performed under the cypress tree which is few hundred metres from the village, directly under the full view of the mountains. The tree is also respected as Lhashing and cannot be plucked even a leaf of it. The head lama presides the offering where feast is served in the form of slaughtering live young bull. However, according to Gup Penjor Dorji, the live sacrifice has been discontinued during the time of Lam Phento as Chhukha Randey Neten.
"The head lama presides the offering where feast is served in the form of slaughtering live young bull"
During the offerings, all the 49 existing households of the village must present irrespective of their whereabouts. They must attend in full national dress. The temporary altar is prepared under the tree where food cooked from the fresh water, 6 boiled eggs, meats and other food items are displayed. After the ritual is completed, the remaining is shared among the attendants believed to be the blessed food.
This has been the practice which has been practiced from the time immemorial and will be continued for all time to come. The deity and the people living within its spheres have learnt to live in close harmony despite the developments taking place. This surely is a place where both tradition and modernizations has found the perfect balance.