Traditional warriors retell war with Tibet

The gups and pazaps here are headed home who were at the Dzong for the ongoing six-day Punakha Domchoe. Pazaps; people dressed as traditional warriors  from five gewogs  in Punakha and three gewogs in Thimphu descended around the Punakha Dzong on Feb 28 evening. Dressed in battle gear, the 136 Pazaps represented soldiers of the Zhabdrung’s army. Like every year, the generals wore the finest battle attire: ghos with glorious patterns, yellow silk skirts with colorful ribbons, and white, blue and red felt tshoglhams (boots). They also wore heavy metal helmets decorated with flags, and at their sides hang dazzling swords.Talking to The Bhutanese, the gewog Administrative officer of Kabji, Jigme Samdrup, on Feb 28 said, “Pazaps of our gewog have circumambulated the Thudrup Lhakhang, offering prayers.” Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel is believed to have resided at the lhakhang during the 16thcentury. “Our pazaps will move to camp outside the Dzong at 7am tomorrow, as is the age old tradition”, he said.  The pazaps are entitled to an allowance of NU 4,500 each while the gups and zimpons will receive NU 6,000 from the government. Gups dons the uniform of a kudung (monk) and takes responsibility of assisting the zimpons in leading the pazaps during the Domchoe. The Punakha Domchoe retells Bhutan’s war with Tibet during the 16th century. It is an annual festival introduced by Zhabdrung, the founder of united Bhutan to commemorate the victories over the Tibetans. Unlike Tshechus in various parts of the country which are dominated by the mask and folk dances Punakha Domchoe devotes several days to ritual ceremonies appeasing Yeshey Goenpo or Mahakala, the protecting deity of Bhutan.Though the pazaps are headed home, Punakha Dzong will continue to be filled with festive vibes till the Domchoe ends on March 5.

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