On a crisp sunny morning on Sunday 23rd October, the Merak village hall filled with Brokpa herders, their children, parks rangers, livestock staff, dignatories and lamas to launch the project. The newly elected local mayor (Lam Rinchen) started proceedings with the ceremonial bowl filled with fermented maize brew. He lifted a cup filled with the brew above the bowl and chanted blessings.
The lamas beat drums and chanted from their ancient prayer books. Offerings were passed around in the form of yellow rice, fruit and biscuits. The Dasho from Sakteng gave a speech followed by the Chief Ranger of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (Thinley Wangdi) and Director of the Regional Livestock Development Centre (Tsering Dorji). After cutting the ribbon in front of the banner, the local ladies entertained with their beautiful singing and dancing.
Just when we thought it was over, a loud drumming came from outside the hall. In came a large dancing yak surrounded by masked dancers. The yak reared and bowed to the dignatories whilst his dancers performed the famous Yakcham dance only bestowed on important occasions. We felt blessed indeed!