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A melting pot of many cultures

by Tenzin Namgyal at Second Annual Drukpa Council, 25 April, 2010 - Besides, being a forum for exchanging religious views and teachings, the annual drukpa council (ADC) held in Kathmandu, Nepal, was also an opportunity for more than 10,000 pilgrims from 65 countries to learn and exchange their diverse cultures.

For a Bhutanese volunteer, HRH Ashi Kesang CT Wangchuck, despite the difficulty in organising the world largest gathering of drukpa masters and devotees, it was an enriching experience for her to learn and understand people of diverse cultures and backgrounds bound by a common religion.

"No matter how different we are, there's spiritual connection and karmic relation, that gathered us at the very important occasion," said Ashi.

She said she learnt to be patient, compassionate and dedicated to the dharma, while also understanding more about different peoples' culture and tradition.

Malaysian devotee Laimeiling always had the impression of Bhutanese being gentle, friendly and presentable. Interacting with them proved it true.

A resigned charter accountant is already mesmerised by Bhutanese etiquette and intends to visit Bhutan for all its uniqueness she has heard about.

A series of cultural programmes, dramas and live programmes by Asian, European and the western groups were performed, which further enlivened the pilgrimage.

It was a good opportunity to watch different cultures, said a western nun, bhikshuni Lobzang Trinlae. "I've noticed that the event wasn't only enjoyed by the Buddhist devotees and practitioners, but even children and non-Buddhists," she said.

Chairman of ADC Khamtrul rinpoche said the council was a very good way of exchanging cultures, apart from religious activities.

"All problems in the world arise from misunderstandings that lead to disharmony," he said. "Such gatherings open opportunities to showcase respective countries' cultures, helping realise we all belong to humanity."

He explained that culture and religion were interdependent, which made Buddhist practice easier.

"Many Himalayan nations, including Bhutan, have a merged culture and religion," he said.

For instance, he explained, the philosophy of prostration was to humble oneself, which was same, whether a person was a Bhutanese, an Indian or Nepalese.

"But how you prostrate depends on your culture," he said. "Different countries have different cultures, which traditionally are crucial to maintain Buddhism."