Monday, February 10, 2014

Hotstone Bath and Social Values

Hotstone bath is one thing which attracts lot of tourists to Bhutan just to have this unique experience. Dipping in Tsachu (hotsprings), menchu (medicinal water), dotso (hotstone) are some of the ancestral practices of treating different type of ailments. Since hotsprings are very few in Bhutan, most resort to hotstone bath. The practice is mostly famous in the rural community. Further you go into the rural pockets more wooden bathtubs for such practices would be found.

Work in Process
To an outsider, the term "hotstone bath" is itself sometimes hard to make a sense out of it as expressed in Sabrina's blog What is a stone bath??? .
Unfortunately (with due respect to the hoteliers for using this word), the commercialized versions of hotstone bath tubs which is available in most resorts and hotels across Bhutan is just an attempt to make a close replication. Most importantly, it misses out the intricate social bonding process involved in the task which takes atleast a day. If the tourists are to pay a hefty price for this, then they must experience the process as well. More than the health benefit that one derives out of this "medicinal water", it is much about enhancing your family bonds, and building friendship.

As far as my knowledge goes, no scientific studies have shown the water to have health benefits but Bhutanese will not mind continuing with the practice. The placebo effect, good meals and societal bonding during the process may be some of the reasons attributable for the revival of health.

With this as a backdrop, the highlight of the story is about one such event which has recently been organized near my workplace. The spot is located just above the Wangdue-Tsirang highway, about five minutes walk including few hops over the boulders. The place is believed to be blessed by previous Jekhenpo's and they themselves have partaken in such bath several times.
Enjoying the fruit of the hardwork
However, my main motive in organizing this two-day event was something different. Deriving the health benefits out of this medicinal water was just secondary. It was primarily aimed at bringing the staff members closer together through such event and also introduce some sort of team building tasks. It involved a great deal of individual and a combined effort to make the event a success. With each of these tasks like collecting firewood, gathering boulders, cleaning pool, pitching tent and cooking meals, people knew each other better and learnt to work better together. There were no blame-games and excuses being played. All I could see was genuine understanding, sacrifices and cooperation getting stronger with passage of every hour. Just as you could see in the above photograph, people talked on different topics in the moonlit night. This two-day event drew close to fifty people which included elders and toddlers in equal numbers - all joyful and happy at the end. One might not see an immediate and a discrete effect resulting out of this team building tasks, but it will go a long way in making a harmonious community and a better place to live in. With the weekend well spent, I am all charged up to work now.

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