Challenges facing Bongop community and few solutions

Rural areas in Bhutan face many challenges. Bongop community has its own challenges. At the 3rd Tshogpa meeting, we discussed on the challenges Bongop community now faces and tried to find solution among ourselves. At the outset, we would like to thank every Bongop who took part in this important exercise.

We divided ourselves into five groups with five people in each group and discussed on the following main issues.

  1. How to generate Bongop Tshogpa fund?
  2. Where to keep Bongop Tshogpa utensils?
  3. How to solve logging and bad road condition issues in Bongo, Phasuma, Jungley and Zamsa
  4. How to solve the difficulty faced by people of Bongo village in particular to perform Kuchoed at Lhakhang?
  5. How to start income-generating activities in villages?
  6. How to bring Bongops from other villages together, eg. from Ketokha, Damji and other villages of Bongo Gewog?
  7. How Bongop elders can support Bongop youth?
  8. How to bring people together to celebrate village events together? example annual archery and
  9. Any other issues you find important to discuss? Please note down and also provide suggestions

The questions were many and some groups took almost one hour to find answers to all the questions listed here. There were many interesting answers and we have the pleasure to report them as presented by the group presenter from each group.

  1. How to generate Bongop Tshogpa fund?

All groups shared that the Bongop Tshogpa fund collection should be left to a voluntary contribution. A different view was shared by Group 5, saying that we should use MBoB facilities to even accept Tshogpa fund donations as low as Nu. 50 or 100. The Tshogpa further decided that henceforth, we may accept only MBoB online transfers as handling cash creates room for misuse.

2. Where to keep Bongop Tshogpa utensils?

At the end of December, Bongop Tshogpa Utensils have to be shifted to a new place as our present caretaker Aum Yangden is vacating her apartment. Group 1 suggested that we may have to rent a store to keep the utensils. Other than that, the rest of the groups could not suggest anything. At the end, the Tshogpa Chairman decided that Tshogpa Administrators will decide on which place and person will take care of the utensils.

3. How to solve logging and bad road condition issues in Bongo, Phasuma, Jungley and Zamsa villages

This is one issue which we have never shared in the public but today, as not to bias our meeting reports, we share that Bongops face a unique problem of losing our trees to BBPL factory and our roads being damaged by lorry trucks. The basic premise is that our laws have allowed people to sell trees from their private land and we cannot do anything about it. But the damages done by trucks carrying the logs are huge to our farm roads. We discussed on how to solve this issue, but nothing came out of it. All the groups shared that we may have to talk to the village Tshogpa, Chipon or LG leaders.

4. How to solve the difficulty faced by people of Bongo village in particular to perform Kuchoed at Lhakhang?

This is also the first time we are reporting the issue to the public. The people of Bongo village face a lot of difficulty to perform annual rituals at the Bongo Lhakhang. Through our research, we found that there are 11 different rituals performed at Bongo Lhakhang in one year. The Principal amount for one ritual, example Dhaw Dhangpa Nungney which is held for four days is Nu. 143,000. Someone who borrows this amount this year should do the four day ritual next year as an interest incurred on this amount. The interest is not calculated and not fixed but the one who borrowed should perform the ritual and give feast to the public for four days in a row. So a rough estimate form research found that the borrower have to spend about Nu. 90,000 to do the four day Nungney. In simple terms, the interest against Nu. 143,000 is Nu. 90,000. This is proving to be a huge burden for the people of Bongo village. We wanted it to be discussed among the Bongops at the meeting. Honestly, nothing much came out of any group except for the suggestion that Bongops who live in urban areas and who are working should volunteer to be incharge of the community rituals. We are yet to find a concrete solution to this but hope to work closely with people of Bongo to find a solution to this Kuchoed issue facing people of Bongo village.

5. How to start income-generating activities in villages?

There are hardly any income generating farming activities in our villages. We deliberated on this issue as well. Most of the solutions focused on starting alternative crops, finding market for the crops and also working closely with the agriculture staff of our Gewogs. We are yet to find a solution in this area as well.

6. How to bring Bongops from other villages together, eg. from Ketokha, Damji and other villages of Bongo Gewog?

This topic generated some interesting solutions. It ranged from appointing Chiwog coordinators, using social media, conducting get-together programmes and Group 5 even suggested we should change the name of Bongop Tshogpa to something else to show that all villages of Bongo Gewog are included in Bongop Tshogpa. We leave this to time and hope our website can reach out to many people from other villages under Bongo Gewog as well. Bongop Tshogpa is for everyone from Bongo Gewog, although we keep on talking about few villages only. This is entirely because we have no one from other villages who are taking active parts in Bongop Tshogpa activities. We welcome anyone who may want to be part of our activities.

7. How Bongop elders can support Bongop youth?

In this discussion, Group 2 were emotional. The elderly group representative even asked which areas Bongop elders have failed to support the youth. Programmes to know each other were suggested. Winter and summer programmes in villages were also recommended by all groups.

8. How to bring people together to celebrate village events together? example annual archery

On this topic, there were suggestions from three groups that people who dont come to celebrate annual archery in the villages should be made to pay fines. Group 2 suggested that we do proper research on why people skip such important community events. Suggestions were also made by some groups that people living in Thimphu should consider coming to such important village events.

9. Any other issues you find important to discuss? Please note down and also provide suggestions

Finally, this question was the most important among all in the group discussion. Many new issues facing our Bongop communities have surfaced from this discussion.

  1. Group 1 suggested that teenage pregnancy is becoming issue in our villages and that we should do something to solve it.
  2. Group 2 shared that we should reach out to all other Bongops who could not be part of us at the meeting. They also suggested that more Bongops should volunteer to be part of Bongop Tshogpa. Group 2 further suggested that our Bongop youths have to be educated on the negative impacts of alcohol and drugs.
  3. Group 3 came up with a unique issue saying that the trust level in our villages is breaking down. Everyone accuses another of taking profit out of money or material collections. It may be necessary for our Tshogpa to intervene in such collections and act as a neutral person so that people dont accuse each other of taking profit from money or material donations done in the villages.
  4. Group 4 suggested that we may need to look for Bongop volunteers who can go to schools and teach English.
  5. Group 5 recommended that Bongops living and working outside should serve as example to our younger generation with such activities benefiting our common people in the rural areas.

At the end of the group discussion, the Tshogpa Administrator summarised and shared that the suggestions from the group discussion will be considered in drafting the way forward and the list of activities the Tshogpa will carry out from now on.

We would like to thank everyone who shared the passionate and important views and solutions about issues facing our Bongop communities. We hope many will provide more solutions in the future. It also helps us to draft the way forward for Bongop Tshogpa, which is the topic of our next post.


Third Bongop Tshogpa meeting overview and outcomes

At the Third Bongop Tshogpa meeting, 36 Bongops attended the meeting. This includes 15 from Bongo, 9 from Baikuenza, two each from Phasuma and Zamsa, one from Ketokha and three of our Bongop In-Laws.

We would like to share summary of the events and discussion we had among us and also share brief of the outcomes from the meeting.

The meeting began with recollection of the second Tshogpa meeting held in August 2014. In it, the main highlight was on the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Tshogpa which was adopted during the meeting. Next we discussed the Tshogpa functionaries who were appointed at the second meeting and the roles assigned against each of them.

Next from the recollection of the second meeting was the fund contributors. The total funds collected until now was shared with the group. We also touched on our Tshogpa utensils.

Then the major chunk of the morning meeting time was spent on updating the Tshogpa activities from 2014 till this day. The activities done till now was broadly categorised into three types.

  1. Community promotion activities
  2. Community development activities
  3. Youth development activities

In the Community promotion activities the following were included and informed to the group:

① Hosting of Bongop Community Website

② Camera Donation to Schools

③ Documentation of Phasuma and Bongo Lhakhang Documents

In the Community development activities, the following were included and discussed at the meeting:

  1. Support to Cleaning Campaigns in different villages
  2. Support to Aum Nakim of Phasuma during fire disaster
  3. Support to Phuntsho Tashi of Jungley
  4. Tarayana Jacket Distribution
  5. Phasuma AMC Cardamom Drier installation
  6. Via University, Denmark Professor’s visit to Bongo
  7. JICA Deputy RR visit and Kitchen Utensil Rack for Jungley to improve sanitation
  8. Bongo Village Toilet Project

In the Youth development activities we informed the group about:

  1. Bongop Youth Meet and
  2. Pakshikha Education Camp

There was tea break and after the break, a quick run through was done to broadcast the names of Bongops and In-Laws who have contributed to the Bongop Tshogpa Fund since its initiation in 2014. Please refer to the contributor’s list to see them. We also shared the names and pictures of those who have contributed to the cleaning campaign and to the support of Aum Nakim of Phasuma whose house was destroyed by fire.

After lunch session was more interesting in the sense that the crux of the concern of every Bongop was shared. The issues and challenges facing Bongops were shared to the meeting. We then divided ourselves into five groups of five persons each to discuss and find solution to the issues we Bongops now face. It was very interesting when the group members presented. We leave it here as it  will be subject of our next post on our website.

In brief, the main outcome from this meeting was:

  1. That our proposal to have three types of Tshogpa fund was not accepted by the group. So Bongop Tshogpa Account remains as one account only. But unlike in the past where we are not allowed to spend from the account, from this meeting, we decided that we can use Tshogpa fund for different activities as per agreement by the Chairman.
  2. Announcement of the acceptance of donations for the Tshogpa fund: That from today, we announce that we are accepting voluntary donations for the Bongop Tshogpa fund.
  3. New appointment and re-appointment of Tshogpa post holders: Dasho Kinley Dorji was unanimously re-appointed as the Tshogpa Chairman.  Lopen Pem Gyelsthen has resigend as the Vice Chairman. So Sonam Jamba from Baikuenza is our Vice Chairman. Tshogpa Treasurer is Choden and Tshogpa Secretary remains same.
  4. We then set the way forward and the activities for our Tshogpa, which will be the subject of the last post in this series.

We hope you have got a general idea about how the discussions have gone through at the one day meeting. We also hope this post helped many of our interested Bongops who have not been able to attend the meeting to get the overall idea. We will also bring more details in the comings posts on the discussions and resolutions.


Voluntary Cash Contributions by Bongops till now

Bongop Tshogpa was given life and momentum when few Bongops came up voluntarily to contribute cash amounts for the welfare of all Bongops. Then all other Bongops living in Bhutan and outside the country joined in. As of 31st July this year, the amount in our Tshogpa Bank Account is Nu. 49, 704 (Forty Nine Thousand Seven Hundred and Four).

We would like to thank everyone who have made money contributions to Bongop Tshogpa. We list each and everyone of you on our website for our record and for the information of all Bongops and others who may be interested to see how kindness of few individuals and common efforts of many can bring together a community, help each other and above all contribute to promotion of community harmony in Bhutan.

Bongops have made cash contributions at three occasions until now.

  1. Contributions for Bongop Tshogpa Fund
  2. Contributions for Mass Cleaning in Bongop villages
  3. Contributions for Aum Nakim family of Phasuma

Further we would like to inform that some contributions which were received from 2015-2016 could not be updated as we decided that it will be done once we settle the accounts after the Tshogpa meeting on 10 September, 2017.

We would also like to announce that voluntary contributions from Bongps will resume after 10th September. If anyone wants to contribute, you can either leave message on our Facebook account or call Tshogpa Administrators directly.

Thanking you all Bongops for the support till now and find below photos and amount contributed by Bongops.



A generous Japanese will donate 20 Kitchen Utensil Racks for Jungley village and visit Bongo and Phasuma

It is with pleasure we share that Sho Takano-san, a Japanese, will visit Jungley, Bongo and Phasuma villages on 5th and 6th August. He has agreed to donate 20 Kitchen Utensil Racks to the households in Jungley village. Our Tshogpa Administrator, Sangay Thinley, will accompany him on the trip.

When Bongop Tshogpa posted the need for 20 Kitchen Utensil Racks on our website, Sho Takano-san volunteered to sponsor for Jungley village. We are very thankful to him for this generosity.

On Saturday 5th August, Sho Takano-san, accompanied by a good friend of his Mr. Jigme Phuntsho from Bumthang, will start their journey from Thimphu at 6:00 AM to meet the people of Jungley and hand over the kitchen utensil racks. Before the handing over, our plan is to invite Health Assistant (HA) of Bongo BHU to talk on the need for proper sanitation in our homes and to show to the people how a small equipment like a kitchen utensil rack can prove useful in keeping our houses clean and how it can help to promote the health of all household members. In Jungley, Chipon Daw Zam agreed to arrange lunch for four people including our Bongop Tshogpa Administrator.

Picture 1: A sample utensil rack

Takano-san shared how happy he is to be part of our Bongop Tshogpa objective to ‘promoting community harmony’. His interest in our community and our initiative is strong and we are overwhelmed indeed for himself personally agreeing to visit our villages.

We will have Sho Takano-san and Lopen Jigme Phuntsho go to Bongo and spend some time and then spend the evening in Phasuma interacting with the people. We are happy to share a short message from Takano-san himself below:

I am very glad to be part of the movement of “Promoting Community Harmony”. Bhutan is facing astounding rural-urban migration, causing high pressure on urban development and unemployment for youth in the capital city and agricultural labor shortage in rural areas. I noticed there was a fear of losing well-balanced development and prosperity, which were the principles of development policy in Bhutan. I totally believe that small community activities like “Promoting Community Harmony” in each district have big potential to play a vital role for People’s Happiness. For me, it is great pleasure to learn and absorb life in your village and tackle on Livelihood Improvement together. My motto is “Small is Beautiful”.

Bongop Tshogpa hope to continue doing such small initiatives. We hope to see many other people like Sho Takano-san to come our way in the future. We thank him again. Please find below the detail itinerary and also included the ‘travel advisory’ we prepared for Takano-san’s visit. It may be helpful for any Bongop who may like to take guests to Bongo and other villages:

Drone pictures of Bongo taken in August 2016

In August 2016, one of our Tshogpa admins received generous help from a film producer and Drone owner to go to Bongo and take drone footage of our village. He is Director and film maker  Sonam Phuntsho, popularly known as Sherlock. He has directed films like Samsara and Drang Golay.

The team consisting of three of his staff walked all the way from Diphuna to Phasuma and then half way to Zamsa and finally reached Bongo after taking drone images. Last year August, road to Bongo was blocked by landslide, which made them walk all the way from Power House to our village. Bongop Tshogpa cannot be thankful enough to Sherlock and his group. Today, after almost a year, we are happy to show some photos of our village taken using drone. We hope to replicate such initiatives in other Bongop villages as well. So if you come through any other interested individuals possessing sophisticated cameras and photography skills, please do invite them to our villages. Our villages are just too beautiful not to photograph! Enjoy some of the drone photos here.

Bongo Drone



Journey of 108 Tanjur scripts from Dorji-Dhen (Bodh Gaya) to Bongo Lhakhang

Bongo Lhakhang now has 108 volumes of Tanjur scripts. Tanjur is the ‘translation of the teachings’ of Buddha and other great Buddhist masters. This important script has reached Bongo with so much effort by the people of Zamsa, Phasuma, Jungley and Bongo villages in the spring of 2011. The 108 Tanjur scripts and another 108 Kanjur volumes were given free by Buddha Dharma propagation group in Dorji-Dhen. Lam Kinley single-handedly brought these two sets of scripts from Dorji-Dhen to Gedu, travelling in Indian buses carrying such huge loads of Buddha texts. He narrates facing many difficulties on the way due to Indian bus breakdowns and even had to change vehicle on some stretch of the journey. We can imagine how troublesome and tiring it must have been for him to do all this alone for the benefit of our community.

Please enjoy Part I of the video below:

From Gedu, a lot of efforts were put in by many people to safely reach the scripts to Bongo. Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen (when Lyonpo was serving in THPA), Aum Nob Dem, Lopen Thrinlay Dorjee (Lopen Dagap), Aum Dema, Gelo Phub Tshering (Chato), Tashi Dendup, Tashi Phuntsho and Sherub were actively involved to successfully reach the scripts from Gedu to Diphuna. When Bongo did not have road connection, Diphuna, as we all know was the meeting place for all Bongops before we started the uphill climb to Bongo.

As there were many texts to carry, we needed so many people to reach it. During that time, there was no road to Bongo and all Bongops had to walk from ‘Diphu’ near THPA Power House. We had to climb through Tozhi, Phangseychen, Phokeyna and finally reach Bongo, taking almost three hours. So Lam Kinley and others decided that the Kanjur volumes be offered to Rinchentse Lhakhang. Only the 108 Tanjur volumes were bound for Bongo.

People of Zamsa, Phasuma, Jungley and Bongo villages participated in this event to carry Tanjur texts to Bongo from ‘Diphu’ on their back. Men and women (mostly women) came to participate in this event. A tea and snacks for all the people were offered by Tshering Choden and Nakchu of Phasuma. In those days, Dagap Sonam (who has his house in Jungley now) used to live in Tozhi. He offered tea and snacks as well. Next we had the public of Bongo waiting in Phokeyna with tea and snacks for the Tanjur bearers. Below Ngaruma village, the Chops of Bongo performed the rituals to welcome Tanjur to our village. It was a big and historic event indeed for the Bongops.

Bongo Lhakhang never had a Tanjur text until that day. Most importantly, on that particular day, a new Bongop community event was initiated by present Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen and Aum Nob Dem. A sum of Nu. 30,000 (Thirty Thousand) was donated to Bongop community by the family to perform annual Tanjur recitation in Bongo. It is continued till today and the Tanjur recitation fund has doubled from its original amount. The recitation is held every year in January for four days. All people from the four villages of Zamsa, Phasuma, Jungley and Bongo come to attend the Tanjur recitation.

The efforts of all our villagers and the generosity and dedication of few individuals like Lam Kinley and Lyonpo Dawa’s family have contributed a lot to the successful bringing of the 108 Tanjur scriptures to Bongo. It may be worthwhile to document their efforts to set an example for other Bongops to follow or initiate such activities in the future.

By Yeshey Tshewang.

Additional writing by Sangay Thinley

Part 2 – Class 10 results data of Bongop students studying in Pakshikha Central School

In the Second part presentaton of the class 10 results of 15 Bongop students studying in Pakshikha Central School, Chukha, we bring to you the marks obtained by Bongo students in the subjects of Mathematicss, Science, Economics, Agriculture, Information Technology (IT), Environmental Science (EVS) and History Civics  Geography (HCG).

Maths MarksBakuenza PSBongo PSKetokha PS

In Mathematics subject, students from Ketokha have done well with minimum marks being 43 out of 100 and maximum obtained by one student at 74/100. Students from Bongo have done the worst with highest being only 43 out of 100 and lowest being 29/100. Same fate with the students who have studied their primary school in Baikuenza. The highest mark a student from Baikuenza obtained was 53 out of 100 and lowest being 32/100.

Science MarksBakuenza PSBongo PSKetokha PS

Science subject. Again students from Bongo have performed badly. The highest mark obtained by one student among the five is only 36 out of 100. The Science marks of other four Bongop students are 33,32,29 and 26 respectively. One student from Ketokha obtained 75 out of 100 and lowest marks in Science for a student from Ketokha is 35. The highest mark obtained by a student from Baikuenza in Science subject was 50/100.

Economics MarksBakuenza PSBongo PSKetokha PS

Economics: None of the students from Bongo have opted to study Economics in 2016 in Pakshikha Central School. One student from Baikuenza only studied Economics and his/her exam marks is 52 out of 100. Two students from Ketokha studied Economics and one obtained 67 out of 100 in Economics and another scored 92/100.

Agriculture MarksBakuenza PSBongo PSKetokha PS

Agriculture seems to be favourite subject of our students. 7 out of 15 students who opted to study Agriculture have obtained 91 out of 100. The lowest marks for every student is 91 and highest was obtained by a student from Baikuenza at 93/100.

English MarksAgriculture Marks 

Agriculture vs English subject: It was interesting to compare Agriculture and English subject marks of our students because it is surprising to see someone score extremely low in one subject and  then obtain extremely high marks in another. Agriculture and English subjects is one. A student who scored the lowest in English i.e. 38 out of 100 scored 91 in Agriculture subject. A student who managed only 50 in English scored the highest mark in Agriculture subject, which is 93/100.

Information Technology (IT): Out of 15 students, one only student studied IT as the optional subject. He/she has obtained 69 out of 100 and the student is from Bongo village.

EVS MarksBaikuenza PSKetokha PS

Environmental Science (EVS): Out of 15 Bongop students, only 3 have studied Environmental Science (EVS). None of the students who studied in Bongo primary school opted to study EVS. Two students from Baikuenza and one from Ketokha studied EVS and highest mark was obtained by a Ketop student scoring 61/100.


Baazis in Bongo Part II

Last year we have shared a short article titled Baazis are few in Bongo . Today we would like to share a similar photo of our Baazis, or a cow-herder as Englishmen calls it. The two photos were taken roughly four years apart. Looking at the two photos reflect few societal changes that have come even within the short span of time in the lives of our Baazis and Bongops as a whole.

Bongop Cow-shed on 01 April 2013

Bongop Cowshed on 27 May 2017

The first thing we see here is that the Pig is missing in the second photo. Most of Bongops will remember why it is so. Rearing pigs in our villages and also in the forests with the Baazis were banned in 2014 for religious reasons. So we can now suppose that Bongops will never see a pig in our village.  We will have difficulty explaining to our children how a village Pig looks like!

Next in disappearing line after the Pigs will be our Cattle and ultimately our Baazis. The number of Baazis are reducing in number every year. Honestly, we are out of solution here. We are bit short of ideas here on how to encourage our farmers to keep this Baazi tradition alive. Is it the evolution of a Bongop society that is taking place. Gradual replacement of stones by brick, mud by concrete, cow milk by Amul Taaza, just as poor Thimphu people are now living.

While it is concerning, we encourage every Bongop to think about the how it will be 10  or 20 years down the line. Our Baazis are already giving up any need to be in the forests and mountains when all their counterpart Bongops in the villages are busy growing cardamom – a crop which is slowing driving all Bongops into an unknown and unseen world.

We strive to document our Baazi culture before it is gone forever, just for the sake of explaining to our children how our fathers lived. How our  fathers lived in harmony with nature, with other animals and proudly independent and self-reliant as a Baazi.

Brushing aside negatives and fears , enjoy some more Baazi photos while you are here!


Gongthas of Bongo, a space in the Kitchen and its losing value

One unique space we have in our Bongop homes is the Gongtha. It consists of a space in the Kitchen where one person can sit cross-legged or stand on their knees. In English they call it hearth or the general term used is Kitchen. Today we are going to show you some Gongthas from Bongo. The purpose is to show the beauty of Gongthas and show so many things you see in this little space at our Bongop homes. Most importantly, we would like to bring attention to the challenges we are facing with Gongthas slowing losing it’s essence and how it may one day disappear from many of our Bongop homes.

Gongthas are usually occupied by Nangi Aum (Woman incharge of house affairs). Even if you were born and brought up in Bongo as a child, I doubt whether you have had the opportunity to take up the role associated with someone occupying the Gongtha at our homes. One can feel the harmony and warmth of a family when you sit around the Gongtha. Mom cooking for you, Dad sitting to talk about day’s work and making future plans and children just enjoying the warmth of the fire. During meals, food is usually served by the Mother or Nangi Aum from the Gongtha. A Cat is frequently seen in every Gongtha.  Now these are  slowly changing.

This days many Bongops  now want their Kitchen space to be separate from their main homes. This is because of the smoke and soot generated with Kitchen being inside their homes. So few Gongthas in Bongo are now seen outside of the main home, moved along as the Kitchen was built outside.

Next it is the drugged innovation called TV which has made it’s presence felt even in our rural homes. Gongtha and TVs do not get along. Goongtha has soot and smoke. TV, as being invented in the neat and clean West, needs to be kept in a cleaner space. So TV is located in the Sitting Room of Bongop homes. Bongop term for sitting room is ‘Yoo’. So people followed TV to the sitting room and we see our Mom or Daughter-In-Laws cooking all alone in the Gongthas now.

Further, there are new houses in Bongo where the builders have never felt the need for a Gongtha. Kitchen spaces are completely outside of their main homes by design. The folk belief that your house timber is made long lasting and stronger by the soot collected on them does not hold value anymore to our modern Engineers.

And lastly, it is the new kind of cooking equipment which are now replacing our traditional cooking methods. It is the installation of LPG cylinders and Gas stoves. These innovation too needs a cleaner space as well as a raised space for someone to stay upright standing to cook. So this innovation has made some of our Bongops to cook food standing, move in the house freely in their upright positions.

In the process of the changes in our villages, we see one main space of our home lose it’s significance. People’s need to stay away from smoke and soot, infiltration of TV requiring a cleaner and separate room and new houses and new cooking methods are leading our Gongthas lose its value and may ultimately lead to its disappearance from our Bongop homes.


Bongopi Kha – Language of Bongops

There is something beautiful, witty, funny and unique in the way Bongops speak Dzongkha. Every village under Bongo Gewog have their own variation in Dzongkha accents. But today, instead of accents, I will write about the unique Dzongkha words and phrases which I assume belong only to ‘us’. There may be similar ones in other places in Bhutan, but what I share here about native Bongop Dzongkha is a result of short recollection of phrases by me and my Bongop friends to the best of our knowledge indeed.

Let me begin with the phrase I heard from my Father when I spent my pre-school as an Assistant Cow-Herder to him at Pangchukha, a cow shed area on the way to Phasuma village.

Leyma Lakchuma Shi Dhi Yug

My Father saw a group of students returning for winter vacation from Bongo school and he remarked ‘Yithrubi Leyma Tshu Wong Dhey (student children are coming). ‘Yithrub’ is a proper Dzongkha but the word ‘Leyma’ is not and Bongops fancy using ‘Leyma’ to call group of children.

Another similar phrase is Leyma Lakchuma Shi (grab children by their hands). Lakchuma shi dhi yuk (grab by the hand and throw or swing). That sounds quite violent and I personally get the picture of someone swinging a kid by their hands before they are thrown on the ground. But that is only my imagination and don’t cultivate the image that all Bongops are fond of Leyma Lakchuma Sheni!

Chu Bawto and Bawchu

These should not be surprise to many who have had their stints in rural Bongop villages in 1990s and early 2000s. Fetching water is the main job of the Bongop children and during our time, the PET Sunflower Oil containers were already in our villages. These are used to fetch and collect water at homes. These rubber containers are called ‘Chu Bawto’ for bigger sized ones and smaller ones are called ‘Bawchu’. This phrase also has been elevated to some Bongop’s nick names. If you are fat and have bulging tummy, your risks of being called … Baw or … Bawchu is relatively higher.

Zaatoro and Haatoro

This twin words must have been born together and we are not sure whether both means the same. It means a small aluminum or steel bowl circular in shape in which most of us drink tea or Bangchang. Zaatoro must be smaller in size than the Haatoro. Haatoro holds more Bangchang than Zaatoro. So at annual rimdros, villagers may be served Bangchang in a Haatoro as it is once in a year feasting given by the host to other villages.

Leykami Chang

Here is my favourite. Not the phrase but the Leykami Chang itself. It is the local wine made of rice. ‘Leykami Chang gi Leysi Na Chaap’ which means the ‘rice wine struck me right into my cerebrum’. Try saying this again and again to exercise your lungs as this phrase together creates lot of diaphragm movement.

Hapa Dhu Dhu

This is my personal favourite. Hapa  dhu dhu. It means ‘fully drenched’. I was fully drenched in the rain will be best communicated by Bongops when they say ‘Chap Key Hapa Dhu Dhu Zo Dhai’.

Geyza Yoo

This is another Bongop phrase which should go straight into the Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC) dictionary. ‘Geyza Yoo’ means popcorn. I am not aware of any equivalent Dzongkha term for popcorn. ‘Chaab Bjhir Cheb Taang Chap Dha Geyza Yoo Hoo Za Go’ which means to say ‘When the rain is falling so heavy outside, it is time to make popcorns at  home’.

Kaam Tholim Chaap

When you tangle your feet and flip over and fall, the term Bongops use is ‘Kaam Tholim Chaap’. I don’t have much explanation for this phrase but leave it as it is for reader’s interpretation.


This is a big one which deserves the attention of the DDC because they still don’t have a Dzongkha word for ‘storm’. When the weather is bad and there is thunder and lightning and wind it is a sign of storm coming. So the phrase Bongops will use will be ‘Sooenam Beni Mey’.

In continuation, what is the word for lightning in Dzongkha? Well officially it is ‘Naam Lokeym’. But Bongops have a simpler phrase for it. It is

Naam Pata Bey

This is very practical, as far as I see at the phrase. When the lightning occurs, it is similar to someone drawing a sword out of the sheath. But the one drawing sword here is the sky. So it is basically that the ‘sky is drawing its sword’ which Bongops will say as ‘Naam Pata Bey’. Add to that the storm which is about to come. Bongops will go ‘Sooenam Beni mey, Naam Pata Bey Dho’. This could even be used as tongue twister for Dzongkha learners! That is my exaggeration though.

Mmmmm Teee

It is difficult to bring the strength and tone of this phrase in English but I just put some random numbers of ‘M’s so that you can stay longer on the ‘M’ phonic sound. But in the second syllable ‘T’ should be phonic sound of that Indian ‘T’. Hope you can get it. The phrase means ‘Not give’. If I say I will not give you, Bongops will go like ‘Nga Choelu Mmmmmmm Teee (add more and more ‘M’s to add extra charm to this phrase).

Baam Dham

Now in Dzongkha we find one meaning of ‘Bundle’ to be ‘Baam Chag’. In Bongo, ‘Baam Dham’ is the word used to tie something as a bundle. Example to ‘Bundle a paddy straw’ will be communicated as ‘Suma Baam Dham Ni’.

Akchu Shor

This is a classic vulgar word but we use it all the time. The literal translation itself says ‘water of shit’ which means your piss. When we used to piss in our pants as children, our parents would be heard saying ‘Leyma Dhom Na Akchu Shor So Dhu’.

And finally, my favourite one. Guess what you say for paying someone in cash. People this days will say ‘Nga Cash Na Troedhai’. But Bongops will say…

Nyul Lag Troed Ein

Isn’t this beautiful? ‘Nyul Lag Troed’ which means the ‘cash was given in the hand’. Well that was when there was no cheque or no internet banking and MBOB or even Bank accounts. But ‘Nyul Lag Troed’ may deserve consideration for inclusion in our DDC dictionary again.

That is all for today and hope other Bongops will add more and more of our native words to this lists. What about we even build a dictionary of Bongop phrases? It is not unachievable.

Sangay Thinley

February 28, 2017

Notes: Bongop Phrases to this writeup were contributed by Bongop Lobza Nima (Uniqlo Shop Owner in Thimphu), Lam Dawa (School Principal and currently Mahidol University student) and Jigme Dorj (Taktse Lecturer). So this Bongop words used here are hugely biased to proper Bongo.