Monday, April 25, 2011

A preliminary study of Lo-ju – Invocation of a warrior deity for enduring peace

A hawk’s vantage point of view: Abstract
(This is a preliminary article on Shar Gi Loju. The final, more academic version is published in Vol. 25 of the Journal for Bhutan Studies)

A Pazap Scene
Lo-ju (blo ‘gyur) is an ancient Pazap (dpa mdzangs pa) festival celebrated every three years across the villages of Shar valley in Wangduephodrang. This study focuses primarily on its Chungsekha version. The festival is the collective sigh of a people for lasting peace and prosperity in their community. So, it is quite an irony as the event’s main ritual involves an invocation of a warrior deity, ferocious in his extremes. At a glance, it would seem like a throw back into a warlike past with the enactment of a medieval battle situation by the peasant Pazaps. However, an in-depth analysis reveals it be a show of faith, courage and battle preparedness which, by default, is a natural deterrent against possible hostilities. An attempt has been made to bear a historical perspective on this tradition which would otherwise seem like an odd cross between vainglorious machismo, anachronistic extravaganza and mindless superstition.