I lived all my younger days as a timid who, had no guts to break rules or disobey others. Except for a few petty mischiefs, I never experienced an adventure of being outrageously naughty. Today, when I recall the journey I have travelled, one of the inadequacies I had, was not having appreciated our drinking-culture enough. I don’t know if, that too was due to my timid nature. I should have been a sensible drinker than being a non-drinker. However, of late, I have converted myself from non-drinker to a social drinker. I did this not just for the taste of alcohol (Chang/Ara) but in my exertion to appreciate our traditional offerings. Our tradition of offering Tshok Chang is just too beautiful. It signifies solidarity, expression of respects, emotional bonding and mutual affections. How can one refuse it when it is offered with such a symbolic gesture and with all good intents?
Consumption of Chang/Ara is not
an alcohol abuse, provided one ought to know the limit and the occasion to
drink. Just as, too much of anything is poisonous; so is with Chang/Ara. Of course, there is a difference between
social drinking and alcoholism. Social drinking takes place on a specific
occasion with friends / family members either to celebrate good times or to comfort
bad times; whereas, alcoholism is an excessive use of alcohol leading to
intoxication of self, misbehaving with others and ruining one’s own health.
|At Tshok Chang offering (Picture courtesy: www.google.com)|
In our society, Chang/Ara has been a central substance during social, cultural and traditional gatherings. How interesting it is that, Chang/Ara is known by a different name depending on the occasion it is served. For example:
- Dong Chang or Pheb Chang – Welcome Drink. Served as a welcoming gesture by the host to their guest,
- Tshok Chang – Greetings Drink. Offered to a guest as a gesture of solidarity, expression of respects, emotional bonding and mutual affections,
- Tse Chang – Longevity Drink to prolong one’s life. Served during the longevity rituals,
- Yang Chang – Affluence Drink served during rituals to enhance prosperity,
- Tshong Chang – Trading Drink, served amongst the Traders at the time of negotiating their deal,
- Tashi Chang – Auspicious Drink. It is usually served towards the end of the ceremony to foster auspiciousness,
- Zim Chang – Bed time Drink. Served just before one retires for the day to have a sound sleep.
- Shakpa Chang – Forgiving Drink. Offered to beg pardon.
- Joen Chang – Departure Drink. Served by a host at the time of departure to wish their guest a safe journey. It is at this time, the guest leaves a token of gratitude for the host, it can be either in cash or kind, or even both.
- Lam Chang – Journey Drink. It is offered in a closed container by the host to be consumed by guest during the course of journey and
- Many more….
I sincerely hope the readers will appreciate our drinking-culture as much as I do. Don’t just forbid yourself from accepting our traditional offerings. I am not encouraging anyone to drink but to appreciate what is there in our tradition. The point to remember is, to be mindful while drinking and not to get drunk or intoxicated.
All said and done, excessive use of alcohol leading to intoxication of self, misbehaving with others and ruining one’s own health & family bond is strongly discouraged.