Propitiating the Tsen, Sealing the Mountain: Community Mountain-closure Ritual and Practice in Eastern Bhutan
Nepal Studies Association
MetadataShow full item record
Kuyakanon, R., & Gyeltshen, D. (2017). Propitiating the Tsen, Sealing the Mountain: Community Mountain-closure Ritual and Practice in Eastern Bhutan. Himalaya, 37 (1), 8-25. https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol37/iss1/7
This interdisciplinary study examines a community ritual in Mongar, eastern Bhutan, in connection to its socio-ecological context. We provide an in-depth documentation of the tsensöl (btsan gsol) deity-propitiation ritual to ‘seal’ territory and prohibit entry to higher mountain reaches. The ritual and the community mountain-closure period (ladam) that it precedes are first situated in context of other documented (but now defunct) territorial sealing practices in Tibet and the Buddhist Himalaya. We then analyse and discuss the syncretic, flexible, and place-based nature of tsensöl, and show how the ritual, the mountain god Khobla Tsen and ladam are interrelated in expressing community concerns for safe-harvests and wellbeing. We conclude by examining what a ritual such as tsensöl might tell us about village political ecology, community concerns, and knowledge of the environment.
Together the authors would like to acknowledge and thank the villagers of Soenakhar, Dasho Mongar Dzongda Sherab Tenzin, Aum Choten Zangmo and family and Yeshi Nidup, who in various capacities helped and advised us, provided accommodation, and gave us their valuable time. We also thank the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary and the Department of Forests, Mongar, for providing initial accompaniment and transport. Riam also expresses grateful acknowledgement and thanks to the Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment and to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan for enabling her research, to Mr. Thinley Wangdi and Mr. Sonam Phuntsho for facilitating fieldwork, to Dr. Karma Phuntsho for his lively interest and help with translations and references, and to Mr. Philip Stickler for cartography.
External link: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol37/iss1/7
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/300766
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/