Buli Tsho

Category: Lake Address Zhemgang

The historic Buli Tsho (lake) is located towards the south-western part of the village. The lake is believed to be the seat of the protecting deity of Buli, the Buli Tshomen (Buli Moenmo). The inhabitants worship the Moenmo at the lake by reciting prayers and offering milk and khadhar. It is also worshipped by all the households during their annual rituals. Individual household often perform isolated ritual dedicated to the Moenmo to accumulate merit, cure illness and to ward off ill luck. Lately, the portrait has been drawn and included in the wall paintings (dhebri) of famous Buli Lhakang and a separate portrait (kathrab) of the Moenmo has also been consecrated.   Thus, the lake is accorded with high regard and respect by the community.

With improved road accessibility, Buli Lake continues to be one of the source of attractions for all visitors to the Dzongkhag. Lately, the vicinity of the lake has become a source of popular picnic destination for both locals and outsiders alike. The beauty of the lake is often magnified by the occasional visits of 2 water birds believed to be the sweepers of Buli Moenmo. Since time immemorial, villagers have declared two months in a year as restricted month to visit the lake (kagdam 2 months from the 1st day of 8th Bhutanese month). The months coincide with the crop harvest season. It is believed that inhabitants are made ill, crops damaged by natural disasters if people who have handled dead body; individuals whose spouse have died recently and ladies with ongoing menstruation visit the lake.  Villagers lodge complain at the gewog office alleging that permit to visit lake may have been accorded by the Gewog administration during the restricted months.On many occasions, spectacular and extraordinary sightings which cannot be explained by science have been reported at the lake site. Therefore, the lake is of strong spiritual, religious and environmental significance for the village.

Oral source narrates the historical importance of tsho , it is believed that Buli Manmo (deity of the lake) is said to have come from Bumthang. While coming from Bumthang, Buli Manmo took rest on the way. Before reaching Buli, Buli Manmo took shelter in a women’s house in a place called Buli Langbi. The women of the house told her neighbor not to peep or try to look inside her house. Since her house is attached with other building where her neighbors stay, the people were conscious to see what is inside and when they peep through the window or holes of the wall they saw snake on the floor. In the morning a big lake was formed below her house where people started dumping wastes. Slowly Tsho has been moved to the present location, Buli and hence the name Buli Manmo Tsho.

In other story it says that the first Buli Ponpo was the nephew of the deity of the lake Buli Manmo. The lake was formed miraculously on the spot a stranger who, a night before, had asked villagers for hospitality had slept. After the formation of the lake, a farmer’s daughter started behaving in a strange way. On morning she was missing from home and while in search the worried father reached the lake where he found several perfectly made pots (Thro), except for one which had the defective pot and realized that the others had disappeared. The event did portend well for him. He kept the pot and became very rich while his descendents assumed the Buli Ponpo-ship (local ruler) thereafter.

The two ducks are believed to be the cleaners of the lake. Villagers of Buli contemplates  they clean the lake everyday,  they get rid of all the leaves that fall in the lake and clear all the white bubble-like stuff that we can see in this picture. No one has had a close look at the ducks so far, so no one really knows if they are male or female. Some bird experts expressed that ducks might be Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna Feerriginea (61-67cm). They are frequent water visitor and passage migrant, with rusty orange with buffish head: white upper & under wing.

Buli Ponpos (local rulers)

According to the oral source, Buli Ponpo inherited its wealth and supremacy from Buli Manmo (goddess of lake). Often it is believed that, before establishing her present place at Buli, she (Manmo) lived near Zhemgang Dzong, but she could not tolerate the place after people started to dump animal carcasses into her lake and defiled her abode, and she ran away to a more congenial environment. She headed towards Buli, where she took a shelter in the house of so-called Buli Ponpo feigning herself as an old human lady. She preferred to occupy the ground floor stating that she needed more space to accommodate all her companions, which appeared too unusual for the host. The host was further amazed with her request to leave her alone throughout the night. The night passed on with rattling sounds emerging from the ground floor. Not able to restrain his curiosity, he ventured to peep through a small hole despite the visitor’s request not to disturb her in any manner. He found out that snakes of all shapes and colours had filled up the ground floor. She left the house early morning wishing that the host should not have peeped through the hole. However, she invited him to the lake located some distance away. When he went there, he found at the lake’s edge a bronze pot with a broken rim (zang thro). It is said that had he not disturbed the guests, he would have been gifted with many pots.

Another version says that soon after the guest had left the house, the host’s daughter went missing frequently without any knowledge of where she was going. Her father grew curious of her daughter’s periodic running away that he fastened a thin string on her cloth so that he could trace her using it. The string unfolded itself all along the way she had walked, the other end of which was with the father. He followed the string and came to a lake where he saw his daughter descending into the lake; her hand spinning the thread, and that was where he last saw her. All of a sudden, he saw the edges of the lake filled with thousands of pots of all kinds. He saw a pot, broken at its rim - too unusual from the rest- to capture his pathos that he touched it with his finger. Within no moment, the rest of the pots vanished except the one that he had managed to touch. He brought home this pot after which he grew in power and wealth and this continued throughout all his generations, later known as Buli Ponpo. It was later known that his daughter had been taken as Manmo’s groom for whom he had been compensated with the pot. He was also later given a dark boy as compensation, whom he did not keep with him for his laziness but gave to Joka Khoche.

This ‘legendary pot’ is preserved up to this day in Punakha Dzong. According to the oral source, the war that broke out between the central authority and Buli Ponpo was all due to this pot, because the pot was a super-human’s gift, its presence in the house enhanced Buli Ponpo’s wealth and raised his fame. His swelling influence in the region became a source of apprehension to them that they sent a troop several times to eliminate Buli Ponpo’s family, but did not succeed. In the later period of the history, Buli Ponpo Singye Namgyal joined the court of Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Through his loyalty and role in the internal strife, he rose to a position of Drongsep earning him the title of Drongsep Singye Namgyal. His bravery and skill is revealed: “He was a giant man whose strength and power assumed mythical proportion. A man of divine birth, he could jump across nine paddy field terraces forward and three terraces backward. Three men of superhuman strength and size, Chumed Wangyel, Mangdep Dhendup and Buli Karchung were his assistants.” In the midst of his growing fame came a severe blow upon him. According to Lama Sanga (1994), he led the force of Trongsa Penlop Pema Tenzin against Jakar Dzongpon Dungkar Gyeltshen and defeated him. Pema Tenzin, who was at that time in conflict with Dungkar Gyeltshen over the post of Trongsa Penlop, engaged Drongsep Singye Namgyal in the warpromising him the highest post if he managed to defeat his enemy. But, Pema Tenzin did not keep his own promise, and the post was given to his brother-in-law, leaving Drongsep Singye resentful. Singye Namgyal employed two men who were annoyed by Pema Tenzin for expelling them from employment in construction of Lame Gonpa. The two men killed Pema Tenzin in 1882 in Byakar Dzong. Singye Namgyal occupied the post of Jakar Penlop. But, the matter did not end easily. Pema Tenzin’s sister sought the help of Ugyen Wangchuk to avenge the death of her brother, who came to fight Singye Namgyal with a huge force. They surrounded Jakar Dzong, but because Ugyen Wanchuck’s aunt and cousins were inside the Dzong and Singye Namgyal threatened them to blow up the Dzong with gunpowder if ever they attacked him, the attack had to be suspended. Determined to kill Singye Namgyal, Pema Choki and Ugyen Wangchuk pretended that they had surrendered and entered the Dzong with the force bearing gifts for him.It was on this occasion that Singye Namgyal was killed and his supporters were gradually executed. The dead Penlop’s property in Buli, was permanently confiscated from his family, and given to Dasho Thinley Namgyal of Pangtey (Chummey), Bumthang. The ‘legendary pot’ must have been among these chattels. His [Singye Namgyal] crime was considered a humiliation not only for his family, but also for whole Buli community, and he was not talked about until recently.

Source:Centre of Bhutan Studies

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