A pilgrimage to purity
|Act of contrition – prostrating along the paro-drugyal highway in repentance for past acts. Photo Sonam Pelden|
10 May, 2009 – Fear of the consequences of life after death has driven three sisters from Paro to do what they are doing now – prostrating full-length along a distance of more than 60 km.
The sisters – Chimi Dem, Ugen Pem, and Chencho Pem, all in their early 60′s – say it is to wash away bad karma accumulated in this life. Chencho Pem’s husband Penjo, 73, is also with them. The four farmers are from Paro’s Lango village.
They began their journey on April 28 from Tamchoe lhakhang, 7 km from Paro Chunzom, to their final destination in Heidi, about 40 km from Paro town.
“As farmers, we’ve committed many sins like slaughtering, taming and using animals so that our children could have a good life,” said Chimi Dem, 61. She said she has learned through Buddhist teachings the repercussions of their actions they have to face after death, and was afraid.
“We want to wash away all our sins and we think it’s the right time because our children are independent now,” said Chimi Dem.
The sight of the four prostrating on the Paro-Drugyal highway is a traffic stopper. Most people, who prostrate for long distances, wear an apron made from yak hide but, for these four farmers, they have stitched their old clothes into a thick apron. “The yak hide gets heavier each day and the heat is unbearable, so we used cloth,” said Chimi Dem. They also each carry a wooden hand-shield made of hardwood.
“We start prostrating everyday from 4:00 am in the morning till late at night but stop whenever there’s heavy rainfall,” said Chimi Dem. Their children bring them food and water every day from home. They said they hope to complete their journey in a month’s time. They have crossed Paro town for now.