Trashi: Concluding Songs of Auspiciousness

Trashi (བཀྲ་ཤིས་) is a category of songs and dances sung across Bhutan towards the end of festive and celebratory occasions. The trashi songs and dances are performed at the conclusion of an event to bring about auspiciousness and blessings for those assembled as well as all sentient beings. Belonging to the bödra (བོད་སྒྲ་) genre of Bhutanese song and dance, they are an essential part of the Bhutanese musical tradition.

Trashi, or maṅgala in Sanskrit, is a broader Indo-Himalayan concept, with a wide range of interpretations and commentaries. The term generally refers to an auspicious state from which good and positive things flourish. The first syllable tra (བཀྲ་) means shining, radiant and bedazzling and the second syllable shi (ཤིས་) refers to something which is fortunate and virtuous. In Bhutan, an auspicious turn of events is considered a sign of trashi, for example, meeting a person carrying a bucket of milk as one embarks on a journey, or a rainbow and/or light drizzle appearing during a reception or consecration. Rituals and prayers are conducted for the sake of bringing forth trashi and astrological calculations for the venue, time, and mode of activities are done for the same reason.

The reason for performing the trashi song and dance at the end of an event is to generate the auspicious circumstances for the future. The performance is often called trashi phabni (བཀྲ་ཤིས་ཕབ་ནི་) or causing the trashi to fall, like making the rain to fall. Because this is done towards the end of an event, the term has also become a synonym for conclusion or closing act. There are a number of songs which are performed as a trashi piece. “Trashi Lungpai Phula” (བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལུང་པའི་ཕུ་ལ་) and “Trashi Riwö Tséné” (བཀྲ་ཤིས་རི་བོའི་རྩེ་ནས་) are among the most popular trashi songs. Excerpts from the two are provided below:

 

བཀྲ་ཤིས་ལུང་པའི་ཕུ་ལ། གསེར་གྱི་ལྷ་ཁང་བཞེངས་ཡོད། །

གསེར་གྱི་ལྷ་ཁང་ནང་དུ། །གསེར་གྱི་རིས་མོ་བྲིས་ཡོད། །

ཆར་པ་ལོ་གསུམ་བབས་ཀྱང་། །རིས་མོ་ཞིག་རྒྱུ་མི་འདུག །

ཁྲི་བདུན་སྤུན་བདུན་ཤར་ཀྱང་། །རིས་་མོ་ཡལ་ས་མི་འདུག །

མི་འདུག་མི་འདུག་མི་འདུག །ན་བ་ཚ་བ་མི་འདུག །

འདུག་གོ་འདུག་གོ་འདུག་གོ །དགའ་བ་སྐྱིད་པ་འདུག་གོ །

In the highlands of the auspicious valley,

Was built a golden temple.

In the golden temple

Were made golden paintings.

Even if it rained for three years,

The paintings did not fall off.

Even if seven suns shone,

The paintings did not fade.

No, there isn’t, there isn’t.

There isn’t any illness and death.

Yes, there is, there is.

There is happiness and peace.

 

བཀྲ་ཤིས་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བཀྲ་ལ་ཤིས། །བཀྲ་ཤིས་རི་བོའི་རྩེ་མོ་རུ། །

བྱ་ལ་དང་པོ་གསེར་བྱ་ཆགས། །གསེར་བྱ་གསེར་ལེགས་སྒྲོལ་མ་ཆགས། །

ཡར་ལ་ཡར་ལ་གནམ་ལ་ལྡིང་། །མར་ལ་མར་ལ་ས་ལ་ཆགས། །

སེམས་རྟེན་མི་བཞུགས་སེམས་རྟེན་བཞུགས། །སེམས་རྟེན་གསེར་ལེགས་སྒྲོལ་མ་བཞུགས། །

ལུས་ལ་ན་ཚ་མེད་པ་བདེ། །སེམས་ལ་སྡུག་བསྔལ་མེད་པ་སྐྱིད། །

ད་ལོ་འཇལ་བའི་དགའ་སྤྲོ་ཡོད། །སང་ཕོད་མཇལ་བའི་སྨོན་ལམ་ཞུ།།

 

On the auspicious, brilliant mountain

The first bird to land is a golden bird.

The golden bird is Serlé Drölma.

She soared up towards the sky.

She landed down on the earth.

There is someone to rely on.

There is Serlé Drölma to rely on.

We are well without illness in the body.

We are happy without sorrow in the mind.

There is joy in meeting this year.

There are prayers to see again next year.

 

The lyrics of the trashi songs end on an emphatically happy and auspicious note about good health, prosperity, success, long life, and the promise of future reunions.

 

Karma Phuntsho is a social thinker and worker, the President of the Loden Foundation and the author of many books and articles including The History of Bhutan.

Bhutan Cultural Library Folk Song Verses of auspiciousness Bhutan

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An overview of trashi songs, sung at the closing of events to cultivate auspiciousness.

Collection Bhutan Cultural Library
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)
Author Karma Phuntsho
Editor Ariana Maki
Year published 2017
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