Plastic Wrapped Tshog – Blessing, really?

Pic: Phuntsho's blog (Google Image)
Plastic pollution is a global issue and a reality. Plastics are everywhere – polluting every corner of the world. Oceans of the world have become dump for plastics, affecting sea animals that depend on them for food. Plastic is not a gas that can be absorbed by trees. Plastic on an average takes centuries to decompose and a millennium to biodegrade! Even the smallest of bottles, so what about all of those that are not recycled?
I remember how whenever there were any religious festivals or rituals, we as kids would get super excited for tshog because hey, sweets and candies! Wrapped in plastic. Of course we never contemplated on the later. But last time one of the foreign students in my class brought this up during a presentation. I suppose sometimes things change so subtly that they appear to be normal, so we overlook them. It was so evident I’m surprised it’s not a thing yet. Now that I see, I find it amusing. What on earth are intoxicated, plastic wrapped, artificially flavored sweets and crisps doing at beatific religious ceremonies?   This is not an in depth case study that I and my classmate did. It’s an observation.  
It makes sense that we offer these sweets as a form of gift in return for blessings. It also makes sense that now people are so busy they have no time to knead flour, sculpt flowers out of it and fry them. Therefore, people buy readily packed candies, noodles and crisps from shops. This also has implications towards the dynamics of market and its advancement of efficiency. However, I think it would make a lot of sense if people offered fruits from local farms and home-made edibles. Not only do the plastics litter surroundings adding to already existing environmental and waste management issues in the country, but they are also hazardous to health of human beings and animals alike.

On the other hand, I came to know about an initiative that supposedly has its roots in Samdrup Jongkhar. It is called “Zero-waste Tshog”, intended to have festivals and religious ceremonies without waste. This idea is said to be gradually spreading across the country which I think is amazing. So the next time you visit a lhakhang or go to a festival, please restrain yourself from buying plastic wrapped tshogs. Change begins from individuals, change begins from you.           



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