Willies, dick’s, penis’s, phalluses call them what you will – but you’ll find them all in Bhutan. Dotted all around the country in all manners of erect glory. They are made, with sensitivity I’d imagine, from wood, clay or metal and are placed over doorways and the eaves or painted on the exterior of buildings maybe a meter or more in length, some spurting others not. Locals pass no remarks; they get more amusement out of the tourists taking pictures.
To the western eye this may seem crude. There is no way for shying away these effigies. But why do the Bhutanese create them?
It is believed that the phallus formed an important part of the Bon religion before the advent of Buddhism in Bhutan. Although Bon religion,or elements of, are believed to still be practiced, in small very remote parts of Bhutan but has generally died out. It is referred to as an animalistic and shamanistic faith. This religion was the worship of nature – sun, water, mountains etc.
In the same way as paganism was incorporated into Catholicism in Ireland, elements of Bon religion are found in Buddhism. The common perception by many Bhutanese is Lam Drukpa Kinley known as the Divine Madman. With a reputation for his unrestrained sexual practices and his rebellious nature against an entrenched Buddhist hierarchy, Lam Drukpa Kinley used his wild ways not just to shock the leaders of their faith but to satisfy his sexual needs on unsuspecting females and even subduing demoness’s with his reportedly overwhelming manhood. The monastery of Chimmi Lhakhang in Lobesa, Thimphu, is dedicated to this Saint. Many couples wishing to start a family can seek a blessing from a Lama who taps the pair with a phallus to the crown of the head.
Leaving aside this Divine Madman, the phalluses are believed to ward off evil spirits and protect houses/people. When blessing (!) a newly built house the phallus plays a leading role.
Five phalluses (or daggers) are used, signifying the five different manifestations of Lord Jambayang (a god). According to Dasho Lam Sanga “On the eastern eave is placed a white dagger representing peace, purity, and harmony. A red coloured dagger representing wealth and power is placed on the west. The yellow dagger representing prosperity is placed on the south, and on the north is placed the green dagger representing protection. The fifth dagger placed inside the house is usually blue in colour and symbolizes wisdom.” These are put in place in a tug-of-war like ceremony between the men on the roof and the women at ground level standing on the eastern eave of the house. A basket of five cocks are tied along the rope and the games begin. Eventually the phalluses reach the eaves of the house and are put in place. I’m told quite a bit of Ara (local wine) is also involved ….. maybe its helps with any performance anxiety 😉
Thanks to www.keystobhutan.com for some of the info.