Thesis title: Contested past, challenging future: Bon tradition in contemporary Bhutan
Before the coming of Buddhism to Bhutan in the seventh century AD, Bon was the only prevalent religious practice and it continues to survive down to the present day. This is surprising because Bon religious practice has been looked down on by Buddhism because it has involved the sacrifice of animals which is antithetical to core Buddhist values. Despite many centuries of censure, including ongoing censure today, Bon beliefs and practices continue to play a role in the lives of rural people through a celebration of festivals and rituals, and everyday engagement in Bon worship and practices.
This project will investigate the reasons for the persistence of Bon beliefs and practices. It will examine the ways in which Bon is embedded in rural social life, politics, economy, ecology, and ideas about health. A particular attention will be given to an annual Bon festival known as Roop to explore the religious syncretism, transformations, complexities, and hybridisations.