Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Lost Tradition of Kurma system – Revived.



On the 36 birth anniversary of the Fifth King of Bhutan the BIFA ( Bhutan India Friendship Association of Bhutan) organized a grand celebration at Nganglam with varieties of shows and dances. The one program that stole the show was the reunion of the long lost friends from the two different countries. The audience had tough time holding back their tears when old men and women from both the countries lined up in the middle of the ground with the gifts consisting of agricultural and forest products knowing full well what the friend or kurma on the other side liked the most and met without much trepidation just like meeting a long lost relatives.

Best friend or a person who you relay on, to take shelter in another country while traveling and with whom there is mutual respect, kindness and trust that tantamount to being a relative, sharing and presenting gifts mostly agricultural products without expecting the same amount in return yet both party receiving more than what they expected. And suddenly they lose contact due to the problem - the problem not between them but a problem relating to the security or something at the higher level. Decades or so passed, without contact and asking a person how his kurma or shazi is, upon meeting a familiar person coming from the same country, some even wondering whether the other person is still alive. When all the hopes of reunion between the long lost the symbiotic friends were lost, this happens on the right occasion at the right time.




A long queue of men, women and children from the neighboring state sat on the ground with bag and sacks. From the gates enters old men with bamboo basket on their back filled with gifts, fresh stuff but the same old gifts that they must have taken long time back for their friends. As they walked towards their friends who were waiting, the nostalgic ecstasy that they were feeling was apparent in their gait. And those of us who were witnessing the reunion and the revival of the old tradition of having a friend in the plains to take shelter and to get the basic necessities in the absence of modern amenities like roads and shops, were moved to the brink of tears, understanding how they value each other and held them together by the mutual circumstances and conditions. The gifts were exchanged and some took much time to catch up and kept sitting on the ground.

The secretary of the BIFA Mr. Dorji Norbu says that it took couple of weeks to trace the kurma and shazi for the occasion. All assistance like vehicle was provided to the people who were interested and aspired to go and search for their long lost kurma.

People to people contact for the better relation of the country would be best preserved in this manner. The relation germinated on its own for the mutual benefits and bonded further due to interdependence and prevalence of barter system where the gifts were exchanged with devotion and both parties tried to give more to the other.  

Many stories of shazi and kurma were heard from the old people in the villages. They narrate the stories with passion, remembering the names of not only the kurma but his whole family, interrupted only with wiping off the tears as they wonder whether the person in question on the other side is still living. They must be trying to pass it on verbally to the newer generations if they cared to continue the relation, if the opportunity arises.

The opportunity was provided on the platter today and it was quite poignant to see the reunion and the desire for continuing the tradition and having relation across the border. The ones who got opportunity today might be just a tip of an iceberg as it concerned only Nganglam Dungkhag. There are many people from Pemagatshel who are too old to make the expedition now but who fondly remembers their shazi and kurma in the plains of India.