Blessed Rainy Day is celebrated as one of the religious holidays in Bhutan which also marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of harvest time. This year it is on the 23rd of September. On this day of all unlike any other days, we actually pray for the rain which is considered to bring the elixir to sanctify and wash out all defilement, bad deeds and anything negative we have accumulated during the year. We get up early in the morning to wash our body from the water collected outside overnight. This water would have been prepared with a concoction of various mixtures of flowers, fresh or dried blessed by the monks usually.
Families in their fine Bhutanese attires traditionally gather for a meal of soup prepared overnight and salty butter tea for breakfast. This culture is still being followed in my family in Bhutan and long may it continue. The day is full of fun with activities such as archery games, deygo which is throwing two flat stones to hit the jack like french boules game, Khurus which is essentially two darts being thrown at the target over 20 meters distance and there are plenty of other games. Some of the family members would visit temples to offer butter lamps and prayers for good seasons for the following year.
Whilst this is a culture to be admired by many and to be celebrated by all Bhutanese it is also a day of utter sadness. Bhutan is known for being the Buddhist country where caring, loving kindness, compassion etc are the aspired qualities which every Bhutanese endeavor to practice in their everyday lives yet many somehow become immune to these qualities during festive seasons. Cruelty, unkindness, uncaring etc are frowned upon let alone killing of any sentient beings which are regarded as the ultimate sins along with eating any kind of meat. Sadly building up to any big occasions such as the blessed rainy day, in this case, people cannot get enough meat and even fight over few cuts of meat in the marketplace like vultures scavenging over the corpse of a dead animal.
On this day many will rejoice and celebrate their good fortune whatever that may be by eating, drinking, dancing, playing games etc all day long. During this time there will be disagreement, fights, gossips etc which are all not really Buddhist in nature and I guess their excuse will be to blame on alcohol and so on. Such behaviors of few will tear family and villages apart which are not at all uncommon.
As a child growing up you follow your elders and do what they do which all seem normal at the time. Now I feel somewhat confused with our moral and cultural attitudes to such barbaric behavior particularly in a country following Buddhism. Anyway, when all said and done we will have forgotten the wrongs and will promise to do the right thing next time. When the next time arrives we will be back to our usual same old ways and nothing will have changed despite our pledges to reform.
That being said I wish everyone to enjoy the blessed rainy day but display bit of decorum whilst at the same time enjoying the occasion and remember our infinite capacity of Buddha nature to demonstrate compassion.