The past two nights had been the nosiest extravaganza in the capital city and its outskirts. We can assume that this uproarious spectacle must have been replicated in many quaint urban pockets across the country. Not many complained even as blaring music disturbed the entire neighbourhood. It was a holy day, a day to honour Vishwakarma, a Hindu god known to be the divine architect.
Although not an age-old tradition, the day is celebrated in factories, industrial areas, and construction sites. What is obvious and visible, even if not to the liking, is the celebrations at the numerous construction sites. Unlike many festivals or celebrations, Vishwakarma Puja, as it is locally known, can get rowdy if not noisy. The cacophonous roar of Bollywood music, unfortunately, has become the hallmark of the celebrations in Bhutan.
As if it is a competition or to attract a dancing crowd, thekadars (construction site supervisors) or their overzealous workers blare loud music to keep everybody awake. It is seen as a right and not many, even authorities, can deter them. It is an occasion and not many mind or bear the pollution. However, it is a problem that can get worse in an urban setting.
A father of a sick daughter called police to intervene on Sunday night when the construction workers next to his house in Semtokha got the biggest amplifiers and started playing Bollywood songs, loud enough to be heard from Sangaygang.
Bhutan and Bhutanese are known for tolerance. We often turn a blind eye or deaf ear to most cultural or traditional practices even if they become a tad bothersome. But the way we live has changed and so are expectations. A hotel owner next to a construction site on Sunday had to keep apologizing to the guests, utterly shocked by the relentless noise.
Vishwakarma puja is not a Bhutanese tradition, nor is disturbing the entire neighbourhood. We expected and tolerated it as it comes only once a year. But it is becoming a nuisance. We can surmise that lord Vishwakarma, the creator of the world, never expected his followers to cause inconvenience to others or non-followers.
Considering the pollution the celebrations were causing, authorities banned discarding plastic, chemicals and other pollutants in the river from the Puja. There were objections, but with clarifications, it was expected that not polluting the rivers was a better way of appreciating the lord.
Noise pollution is another and it is becoming a problem. We could make Vishwakarma a remarkable and joyous occasion without causing inconvenience to others. The lord Vishwakarma, we can surmise, never said to drink and dance, disturb people or cause trouble while celebrating the day in his name.
The Zorig Day celebrated in spring is our equivalent day for Vishwakarma. It is a solemn day celebrated without noise or pollution. We have seen many switching to celebrating Zorig Day. Both Vishwakarma and Zorig Day are celebrated to worship and pay respect to artisans, craftsmen, mechanics and industrial workers to pray for safe working conditions and success in their fields. The day can obviously be celebrated without causing a disturbance or becoming a nuisance.