Deviating sharply from the aged-old tradition of performing rituals, the Bhutanese resettled in Adelaide experienced a ‘new practice’ initiated by one of the families in the community here.
The guests began pouring in after 2 pm on the Friday afternoon at the residence of Gopal Ghimirey, the former Vice President of the People’s Forum for Human Rights, Bhutan (PFHRB).
Most of the invitees had no idea what they were invited for. “I think there is a meeting happening,” said one of the guests getting off his car. “I think there is a party,” another guessed. But, the confusion grew taller when they entered the house.
On one side of the room was a table against the wall on which sliced fruits, flower, rice grain and an unlit oil lamp (Diyo) were kept. Leaned against the cupboard above the table were the lists of Ghimirey’s ancestors while on the other side was the lists of his mother’s and wife’s ancestors.
In the middle was the name of his father, late Tula Ram Ghimirey. And, the event was named ‘Pitri Smriti Diwas’, meaning ‘ancestor’s memorial day’.
The programme began with lighting the lamp when Sushil Pokhrel, who had arrived all the way from Murray Bridge, some two hour drive from Adelaide City, chanted mantras. Welcoming guests, Ghimirey explained them about the programme.
Only then, most of the guests fully knew that they were invited to attend Shraadha (homage) ceremony of Ghimirey’s father late Tula Ram.
Following the schedule list, the guests observed a two minute silence for the peace of Tula Ram’s soul. Then, the family and the guests offered tributes. The formal programme ended with ‘Mangalacharan’, a prayer for the wellbeing of the planet and its components.
Justifying his initiative to jump into this model of practice instead of slowly moving towards it, Ghimirey said BNS, “It was a long dream, a dream of 15 years, and with the support from my family and friends, I have made it happen. First, we are in Australia where work matters more than our tradition.”
Further he added, “Anything we do should be justifiable and whatever I have done I can explain to my children and grandchildren. If we do not modify our tradition making it in line with the environment we live in today, I am afraid our children will completely ignore our culture.”
You have just seen my son driving off for his work and you can see everyone eating together on the same table as a family, he expressed, no one is stopped at the door because he belongs to the so called lower caste.
Saraswati Ghimirey, 84, widow of late Tula Ram Ghimirey actually encouraged her son Gopal Ghimirey to begin the new practice in South Australia.
“When one of my neighbours said she would not like to have tea at my house because we allow access to all castes people into our home, I felt that following their way meant committing an unpardonable crime against humanity,” she said with tears on her eyes.
On the discussion that followed the programme, all the guests unanimously supported Ghimirey’s innovative move and vowed to fight against any form of discrimination done to the members of the same community on the basis of their castes.
(Reported by Ichha Poudel from Adelaide, Australia)