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"The Bhutanese love archery. They also love drinking. They tend to combine their two passions, and this is worrying." Before coming to Bhutan, I read a pile of books trying to grasp this country, most of them written by Westerners. Out of these travel/autobiography accounts Eric Weiner's " The Geography of Bliss - One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World", described by the author as "a philosophical humorous travel memoir" was one of my favourites. His quote above is not that far from reality, as even deadly archery accidents (not necessarily only due to alcohol) have taken place in Bhutan. One of the main news stories last week was a young man who was hit by an arrow , piercing his shoulder 11 cm deep from behind. Apparently his village was 8 days (!) of walking distance from the nearest hospital. Bhutan has no ambulance helicopters (yet, that is one of the new leading party's promises), so the main news of the following day was his transportation to the national main hospital in Thimphu on an Indian military chopper . Archery ground in Thimphu Bearing all this in mind, I approached prudently the main archery ground in Thimphu, next to the football stadium on a warm Saturday afternoon yesterday. However, this being the final of the "most notable archery competition in Bhutan" , there were no signs of alcohol among the contestants nor the crowd, which was even surprisingly lethargic compared to the lively crowds in the King's Cup football tournament in July. After all, this is the official national sport of Bhutan (since 1971) - a surprising choice considering that in Buddhism, killing of any living beings is forbidden. Arrow has hit the archery board: a dance and a song is performed I had seen some highlights of archery matches on TV before and was very much looking forward to seeing the dances, songs and cheerleading ceremonies related to the archery traditions in Bhutan. Every time an arrow - shot from around 150 meters of distance - hits the very small board, the team members perform a little dance and a song in front of the arrow board. In this final, unfortunately, no female cheerleaders were present. This year the competition gathered 267 teams with 1,602 archers from around the country. The competition between the three qualified teams took more than 4 hours (I was there for one hour). The prizes for the winners were interesting: the winners got iPads and washing machines; the second place team members got an older (!) version of iPad and a fridge; and the third team got a lap top and a microwave oven each. This prize list actually reminds me a bit of Finnish ice-fishing competition prizes...(and so does the association of alcohol with the competition). Archer in action All in all, archery seems to be quite an equal sport - except for the fact that all archers had modern bows which cost more than the average annual salary in Bhutan...yet, the organizers of the tournament proudly acclaim that their hope is to bring all sections of society together through the sport: princes, farmers, taxi drivers and government officials - and even women! Although in most areas of life, Bhutanese men and women are fairly equal, there is still a noticeable gap in sports and in politics. Traditionally archery has strictly been men's domain (as is the other favourite pastime, Bhutanese darts, khuru ), but Yangphel tournament has also allowed women to participate. Hooray! There are a quite a few Bhutanese proverbs related to archery. I would like to end with this one that I particularly like (see the short video clip above with the archer concentrating): "Da chab lu mi cho, thi lu cho; Loe lab lu mi cho, nen lu cho." "The way the arrow is targeted is more essential than the way it is shot; the way you listen is more essential than the way you talk. (anyone can shoot, but the way it hits matters). "
Avainsanat: shoot second search saturday related reality politics places old national modern military men members me main lively like leading july it ipad ice hope ground finnish final female favourite essential eric each you write women who village video travel tournament third they tend team talk stories stadium sports sport songs some society small shot domain deep days dance cup country board average author cost competition by alcohol action