Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Mystical Power of the 'Sungkhop'

In Bhutan, it is believed that whenever there are competitions and important matches the abstract spiritual force helps in enhancing the performance of the team. Therefore, the team members or just the leader set out to the religious place and seek divine support. The caretakers of the Religious place are requested and even bribed subtly to conduct the right rituals to make the team win the competition.

It is normally resorted to, during the traditional games like archery and khuru matches and sometimes during the competition in the modern games like football and volleyball also. How far such powers help is not known but the belief in such powers still runs strong especially in the psyche of the Bhutanese people.

The incident that I am going to narrate is neither in the game of football nor in the game of archery but it happened during the game of boxing bouts.

The religious man of the wings is commonly referred to as ‘Sungkhop’. The Sungkhop like any other religious man had an habit of playing with a lump of dough in his hand perhaps to perfect the art of making Torma - the religious cake. He never thought in his wildest dreams that this habit of his would be construed as something that has formidable powers.

When the opponents from the other wings started to lose the bout continuously in the presence of Sungkhop fiddling dough made of rice in his hand, they thought that he was crushing the soul of the boxer in a miniature effigy made out of dough. All hopes of winning the bout from Wing Lima was lost due to that belief. Even the exceptional boxers were psychologically affected by the alleged powers of the Sungkhop that they became sluggish seeing a man in red robe crushing their soul in his hand, and trying to have a peek at him during the match, made them lose the vital concentration on the approaching jabs that could have easily been blocked or dodged.


As expected, Wing Lima came first in the inter wing boxing championship but not without controversy and allegations of employing spiritual powers during the bout. It was shocking for the adjutant of Wing Lima, when, even the educated young officers believed about the mystical powers and vehemently voiced so. Such case was beyond the jurisdiction of the written rules and regulations of the boxing federation. However, being Bhutanese and having resorted to seeking assistance from the unseen force, or having seen/heard about other doing it, one cannot rule out the existence of such paranormal powers.

The controversy was solved by mutually agreeing that in future matches the Sungkhop will not be allowed to witness the bout. If the Sungkhop comes to know about the arrangement to solve the controversy involving him and his possession of supernatural powers, the adjutant wonders what his feelings would be like.

Whatever may be it is guaranteed that the Sungkhop would be granted paid leave in future as long as the boxing championship lasts. The Sungkhop would definitely miss the live bout, but then on the brighter side, he would not have to cringe and be anxious watching the match from outside the ring just as all the audience.

His play dough would have tender touches and not the nervous hard squash caused by angst of watching the bouts and knowing the better moves, stances and blocks just like all the other passive players from outside the ring.

‘The God is always on the winning side’ so the saying goes, but that time the god's man was allegedly accused of bringing the winner to the god's side. If it was as easy and as effective as that, how many world cups and gold medals would have come to Bhutan?