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Thread: Bono-na / Bona-na Triennial Festival --> Brokpa Village of Dah, Ladakh

  1. #1

    Smile Bono-na / Bona-na Triennial Festival --> Brokpa Village of Dah, Ladakh

    We were very lucky to witness the Bono-na festival as we reached Dah in late October 2010 during our self-drive Ladakh expedition travel. To read the complete travelogue, please click here: Self-Drive-Expedition-Travel-to-Ladakh-and-cold-desert-Changthang-in-"off-season"-October-2010

    This travel photo essay is of the Bono-na festival that we witnessed.

    Dha and Hanu are two villages situated in the Dhahanu valley where they are found. They are also scattered in other parts of Ladakh. Part of the community are also located in the Deosai plateau just across the LOC in the Baltistan. Like the people of Gilgit, they speak an archaic form of the Shina language unintelligible with other dialects of Shina. They are originally said to have come from Chilas and settled in the area generations ago. They are predominantly caucasoid in contrast to the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh. They are nominally Buddhist, however animist and Bön rituals still survive.

    Minaro is an alternate ethnic name. 'Brokpa' is the name given by the Ladakhi for the people. Dah-Hanu: Down the Indus, between Khalatse and the Shayok-Indus confluence, live a people, known as Drok-pa, who are Buddhists by faith, but racially and culturally distinct from the rest of the Ladakhis. Two of the five villages inhabited by them, Dah and Biama are now open to foreign tourists. The approach to this area follows the Indus down from Khalatse, past the villages of Domkhar, Skurbuchan and Achinathang, along a fairly good road.

    They have preserved the saga of their ancient traditions and way of life partly through the celebration of the triennial Bono-na festival, and partly through the songs and hymns. Their language is derived from archaic Shina, a language still spoken in Gilgit, and by the Shin immigrants now settled in Drass.

    If you would like read more in a summary, please go through this great article from The Tribune newspaper.
    A chosen people: The Brogpas are said to be of Indo-Aryan stock and came down the Indus centuries ago. Whether it is German women who seek Brogpas for racially pure progeny or anthropologists researching their life, these Aryans continue to fascinate. Continue reading here: A chosen people - Brogpas

    Bono-na Festival, Dah, October 2010
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  2. #2
    From Leh on the "Road to Kargil" one can reach the Dah village along the Batalik route. There is a 25-mt walk from theBatalik road to reach the village up in the mountains. The village and the fields are like cut into the mountain side.

    Dah is a fully self-sufficient village ensconced in a mountain side.
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    And preparations start from morning as the dress made of sheep skin is taken out

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    The festival in Dah takes place in small field that the village has and all people from the nearby Brokpa villages starts to come by early evening. And as the sun goes down and dusk falls, the festivities start with full gusto, vigour, and rhythm.

    "They render their folk traditions once every three years during a special celebration in the Bona-na festival. This event is a testimony to Brogpas’ rich historical antecedents which they seemingly trace from Central Rome."
    The women folk were there in their traditional dress - made of sheep’s wool, handmade jewelry and ostentatious head gear.

    The men were there too

    Even the foreigners trying to document were there

    The local army commander was the chief guest and he and his family were welcomed warmly

    And everyone waited for the festivities to start and started soon..


  3. #3
    Bona-na / Bono-na triennial festival contd...

    It seemed that we were the only local travellers and the festival was full on.

    The headman had some welcome words for us.

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    And the different floral headgears!


  4. #4
    Dah [Brokpa village] and the Bona-na / Bono-na triennial festival

    Some more random pictures of the Bona-na festival

    The local Doordarshan TV persons are soon there to interview

    And the festivities and revelry continued till late night

    We were there almost till end. Again these fantastic experiences continue on this one fabulous travel. We were staying with local guy in their house, a homestay but again a personal house in itself. Next day we left this wonderful village for Kargil towards as we made an exit from the district of Ladakh.


  5. #5
    nice write up and photographs.... life time experience,,

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