Our time in Gangtey is coming to a close and I don't want it to. We've hiked, the kids have played Bhutan's national sport and Bhutanese darts, gone searching for black-necked crane, visited multiple monasteries and we've really enjoyed the Gangtey Lodge (which is an experience in and of itself).
Today we received a longevity blessing from a small, new monastery, headed by a young master and 17 monks between the ages of 10 and 16. It was a beautiful experience. We arrived to the sound of a consistent drum beat and chanting. We were then invited to light 108 butter candles, 104 of which were outside of the temple. We then climbed a precarious set of stairs to a temple to light the final 4. What we found was the young boys performing a ritual, which apparently they had started at 5AM in preparation for our arrival that afternoon. We then lit our final 4 candles and sat down. The boys continued their chanting, increasing their pace and volume, praying for our longevity, protection and the removal of any obstacles in our life. It was powerful to witness this, especially given how young, yet intentional the boys were. Upon our departure, we were asked for our birth month and years so that the boys could continue to pray for us individually.
We entered the temple in the freezing rain and exited to sunshine. It was magical. However, the boys had one final task, getting our van out of the mud. Amelia got quite the kick out of watching 8 monks tie up their robes and push the van (especially once she caught a glimpse of what was under their robes - basketball shorts). It was the physical manifestation of their prayers - removing our most immediate obstacle.
*Young monks usually come from poor families who cannot afford to care for their children. They send them to the monastery to be cared for. Once they are of the age of consent, they are given the option to take the vow and commit to another 8 years of study.