Published on : Tuesday, August 29, 2017
For long time, Bhutan has celebrated the phallus. They have been painted on walls of the houses, or carved in wood, placed at the top of the doorways and under eaves to avoid evil influences. Besides, phalluses are worn on necklaces, fit in granaries and in fields just like scarecrow. In various festivals, these are used by masked jesters. At one of the temples near Lobesa, its being used as a blessing of fertility.
Due to commercialization, this age-old tradition in Bhutan is increasingly evolving. Although it still works as a religious symbol, it has become kind of a relic of a patriarchal past. At present it appears as something vaguely awkward and unfit for the new age democracy that has, by all chances established itself in Bhutan after decades of relative separation and complete monarchy.
Currently, tourists visiting this remote Himalayan kingdom, phalluses have become a curio to peddle, found in varied sizes and colors, well-known for its pursuit of “gross national happiness.”
“People still use it as a symbol,” said Needrup Zangpo, the executive director of the Journalist Association of Bhutan, who has expressed in writing about the historical inspiration for the symbol, “but the necessity of having it painted on your house is going away.” He attributed this erosion of tradition to “the exposure to Western culture.”