Thropton WI, Tales from Bhutan

Thropton War Memorial Hall.
Thropton War Memorial Hall.

New Year greetings welcomed members back to Thropton WI’s first meeting of 2016.

January’s meeting reminds members that, far from being a group of women in a Northumberland village, we are actually members of a national organisation whose motto is ‘Inspiring Women’.

The task was to vote on the national resolutions.

The chosen resolution will become the National Federation of WI’s next campaign. As usual there was a variety of topics to choose from.

Our speaker for the evening, Rosie Stacey, gave us an informative, illustrated talk about her recent visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Sandwiched between India and China, this Himalayan state is about the size of Switzerland, with a population similar to Newcastle.

Bhutan is a very rural country, has never been colonised and many languages exist amongst its widely dispersed citizens.

A 40km hazardous track, beset by rockfall, is the only main road in the country, and landing at the airport should satisfy most thrill-seekers. The small capital city, Thimphu, has two parallel streets and the single junction is controlled by the theatrical directions of a traffic cop.

The people seem to have a genuine respect for their king and culture.

Traditional colourful dress is the norm. The men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist, and the women wear the Kira, an ankle-length dress, with a light jacket.

Where other countries measure the contentment of their people by GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the Bhutanese measure is Gross Domestic Happiness.

This is a Buddhist country with an emphasis on happiness and co-operation.

The latter is reflected in the recurring motif of a bird, rabbit, monkey and elephant, illustrating that seeds dropped by birds, buried by rabbits and nourished by monkey droppings eventually produce leaves for elephants to eat.

Bhutan, the Land of the Dragon, is also a land of Buddhist monasteries, red-robed monks and fluttering prayer flags.

Rosie described in some detail her trek to the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery built on a sheer craggy cliff face.

Imagine a goat-antelope with horns and that’s a Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. We also learned that archery is the national sport and that competitions lack health and safety considerations.

Rosie’s vivid descriptions of paintings on houses, wall-hangings, festivals, animal masks, bright clothing and a culture of happiness combined to convey a picture of a unique country.

The next meeting of Thropton WI takes place on Wednesday, February 3, at 7pm, in Thropton War Memorial Hall. Seven Courses of Lentils is the intriguing title chosen by our speakers, Sandy and Wilma Hunter.

Visitors are welcome so come along and be inspired.