We got up this morning at 6:15 am to see the great scroll of Guru Rimpoche that the Paro Dzong unrolls during its festivals just once a year. It’s supposedly one of the 10,000 things everyone should see before you die, and we’d read that these scrolls, which are hidden away carefully most of the year, are Bhutan’s greatest works of art.
Many of the guests at Aman woke up at 2:30am to see the procession, in which the monks carry the box with it to the Dzong, where they hang it from the top of the temple. The scroll covers the whole side of a building. I wanted to see the procession, but Patrick was reluctant, and I was persuaded by Paul, who expounded on the meaninglessness of non-believers to witness such an event. The scroll was going to be up until 8am, so we went to see it in the morning.
Having seen it, I have to admit that Paul was right. The painting was quite impressive, but it meant nothing to me, though they say that just looking at it cleanses us of our sins, which sounds alright to me. Our guide and driver, on the other hand, were gazing at it solemnly and praying under their breaths. On the way back, I was amused that Ugyen stopped to help a young man, who was struggling to figure out how to put on the cream-colored cloth that all men have to wear on the temple’s grounds. Even in religious Bhutan, it seems some of the young are beginning to lose touch with aspects of their tradition. I was also interested to see that a popular toy for boys at festival time was a toy gun. I even saw a young monk with a toy gun in his hand, and tried to get a photo, but sadly missed the opportunity.
After lazing away the morning, we spent our last afternoon going for a bike ride and playing archery the old-fashioned Bhutanese way. I just watched, but Patrick hit the target three times, which our guide says was the all-time record for any foreigner he’s seen. I’m not sure how true that is. We got a sense of the entertainment aspect of this sport, however. Whenever Patrick missed, Ugyen, who was standing near the target, would tease him about how terrible the shot was, and point at the target to show him where it is. “It’s not here,” he would say, pointing at the air.
In the evening, Aman had invited a local monk to do astrology readings. Patrick refused to participate because he doesn’t want to “second-guess” himself, but I had mine read. I was told my sign is the wood tiger, and my auspicious color was green and my auspicious day was Wednesday. My inauspicious color, on the other hand, is red, which is a real shame since I wear a lot of red. My inauspicious day is Thursday, so I’m not supposed to schedule any important meetings on that day.
From there it got even more interesting. In my previous life, I was a son of a god, the monk told me through an interpreter. This makes me wise for my age, and my life will bring me lots of prestige, he said. Some people will be jealous and won’t like me for my accomplishments, but people, who are older and senior than I am will, and I don’t need to worry about it, he said to me several times. I’ve also apparently gone through some of my most difficult times through the age of 25, and I won’t encounter any difficulties until I’m over 50. He said I would be healthy until I’m 79, after which I might have some problems. In my next life, I will be a scholar somewhere east of where I live now.
At the end, he asked me to make a wish while rolling some dice, so I wished for a happy marriage. The number I drew was 12, which wasn’t a very good number. I rolled the dice again and came up with 15, which was a very good number. Beaming at me, he told me that as long as I made an offering of milk and sugar northwest of where I live now, I am sure to have my wish granted. I can live with all of this, though just to double-check, I think I might send the time of my birth to Dorte, the astrologist, to have her do a Western reading.