Blessed Rainy Day, More Blessings, and Marriage Cliffhanger

The Blessed Rainy Day in Bhutan is something like the Autumn Equinox. It marks the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of cold weather. Families traditionally gather for an early breakfast of thup (porridge) with yak cheese. My Lama made this the night before. We’re all enjoying it around Tenzin’s table.

This video illustrates Bhutan’s tradition of the Blessed Rainy Day. On this day all natural water resources in the country are considered sanctifying. Citizens are encouraged to rise early and take an outdoor bath to be cleansed of “bad deeds, obstruction, defilements and accumulated bad karma”.

I went out for a walk and to do some Taichi. These children were fascinated and stopped to share. I was really impressed with their focus, quiet concentration, and how fast they picked it up.

Lama and I had 4 meal invitations with friends on the Blessed Rainy Day. We went to them all and ate way too much. One of them was a picnic by this stupa in the forest.

We took a 1-hour hike up to the Tango Monastery, where Lama went to school. It was founded in the 12th century. This particular building was built in the 15th century by the “divine madman”, Lama Drukpa Kuenley. The picturesque three-story tower is under renovations today, however we visited many other parts of the monastery. About 140 monks live and study here.
We had lunch with Ghalem’s childhood friend, a Lama who teaches at the monastery.
This Lama is Ghalem’s childhood friend. He comes from a very spritually connected family. Before becoming a teacher at the monastery, he spent 3 years meditating in a hut in the forest. He now lives in a simple 3-room house in the forest near the monastery.
We made the trek for an hour up the mountain to the monastery with Tenzin and Ghalem. Although I’m in pretty good shape, I could not keep up with them. Periodically I had to rest. They were kind.
Tenzin is an accomplished painter of spiritual iconography and thankhas in Bhutan. This is one of his paintings on a wall in the Tango Monastery.
We were extremely fortunate to have an audience with the 4th Desi and to receive his blessing. Gyelse Jigme Tenzin Wangpo Rinpoche resides at the monastery. This was a great honor. He is an important young trulku or tulku (reincarnate lama) who is recognized as the seventh reincarnation of the highly respected fourth desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. Identified as a tulku at the age of five, he has been schooled since then by high lamas. He completed his doctor of philosophical Buddhist studies, and his three-year and three-month retreat. I felt comfortable and at ease with him. He spoke very little. I felt kindness, perfection, and wisdom in him surprising from such a young man. I noticed he was very balanced and in a high state of mental and physical functioning.
The Tango monastery was renovated by the first Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, born in 1638 CE. As the 4th Desi he ruled Bhutan as spiritual and administrative head. For many years the country was said to enjoy peace, happiness and tranquillity comparable to a god’s heaven. Guru Rinpoche (Padamasambhava) himself had prophesied in the 8th century that a person by the name of Tenzin would rule Bhutan. In keeping with the prophecy, there is a general saying that never had the country known such idyllic peace as during the days of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye.
On the way home from the monastery, we stopped suddenly in a field for some nourishing butter tea.
The paperwork required for a marriage to a foreigner in Bhutan defies belief. Here’s a small fraction of the documents we have to present. We both submit birth certificates, proof of single status, proof of identity, police report showing no arrests, family permissions, and a witness. I must present sisters’ passport copies. Lama must show census of extended family, and photocopies of id’s of close relatives. It has taken our team of friends and family many weeks to assemble all the papers.

My friend Dorji Dema is Lama’s lawyer cousin. She is helping us with the marriage paperwork.

Who are the kings of Bhutan? For the marriage to be approved, we will both have an official interview with lawyers in the high court. I will be asked questions in Dzonkha, and I may be asked to identify and name the 5 kings of Bhutan. I have them all memorized. The current 5th king is Jigme Khesir Namgye Wangchuck.

 The High Court of Bhutan is beautiful and imposing. We arrive for our marriage appointment only to find the paperwork isn’t complete. Tenzin and Lama immediately drive 3 hours to his home village to visit the Punakha courthouse, and return with the papers. After 3 more days of running around, and  discussiona with secretaries and gatekeepers in the court, finally all the paperwork is complete.

Only one problem, the wedding appointment in court for foreign marriages happens once a year on Otober 3rd. My visa runs out on the 1st and I must leave Bhutan.

The High Court approves marriges to foreigners ony once a year on October 3rd. But my visa in Bhutan ends October 1st. We have applied for an extension of my visa so that we can complete the Marriage Certificate. This certificate is necessary in order for my Lama to get a US visa.

Finally today the high court has approved the marriage papers. Our hearing interview is scheduled for October 3rd. The High Court approved a visa extension for me for 4 months! But the Immigration Office does not agree. They said they will not allow any extensions of visas for personal  guests. So I may leave Bhutan very soon. We may have to wait until next OCtober. Everything is up in the air. Say a prayer.

This evening Lama and Tenzin are calling friends to request assistance for my visa extension. Tomorrow we’re off to make requests and submit more papers. Our team is amazing – Lama, Tenzin, Dorji Dema, and Lama’s sister Galem. The following day, the Immigration office finally gave me 6 more days in Bhutan, so we can attend the marriage hearing. Yay! Then I will go to Kathmandu for a 30-day waiting period.

Lunch today was Red Rice, Mutter Paneer, and Bitter Melon. Yummy!

The week closed with a Bhutanese hot stone bath. The end of the wooden tub is filled with hot rocks. I shared the bath with Ghalem’s daughters Kysang and Pale’. We soaked with Angelicum herbs for about 45 minutes. After that, sleep was profound.

Thanks for stopping by! Our marriage hearing and interview at the High Court is scheduled for October 3rd. I have no idea what will happen. I’d like to stay here for a few months so that the Lama can come to the US with me.  Stay tuned. Weekly travel log comes out Fridays – probably.



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