Tshering Palden

The birth of identical twin calves has stirred concerns and superstitions in a small hamlet of Rongthong under Kanglung gewog.

The anxious owner has decided to consult the local priest (tshampa). “I’m troubled as we have a belief that it could bring ken (misfortune) to the owner and the community if the calves survive,” said Sonam Choden, the owner of the calves. “If anything happens in the village, fingers will be pointed.”

She has not even started to milk the cross-breed jersey cow. The twin calves were born on the morning of Thursday, August 20.

Some villagers believe that the twin will bring either too much good or bad luck. Others say misfortune will befall the owner.

“I hope the calves will die and the community and my family remain unaffected,” Sonam Choden said, adding that the pain of losing the two animals would not go away easily.

“We’ve seen people give birth to twins but never cows,” said an apprehensive Rongth- ong shopkeeper. “We hope it won’t bring us any harm.” As in most other parts of the country Rongthong villagers are deeply rooted in orthodox beliefs. Most villagers are illiterate and live on agriculture and rear cattle.

Several years ago, the village was struck with the same fear when Sonam’s neighbour got twin female calves. However, both died within weeks. Some villagers said that the misfortune killed the calves instead of the owner.

Livestock officials disagree. Dr Tshering Dorji, Trashigang livestock officer, said that the birth of twin calves is rare but it happens. “The calves could survive like the single births, provided they don’t have any abnormalities,” he said.

The survival of the twins will depend on the care and management by the owner,” said Pema Jamtsho, a livestock official. “Usually, the calves die because they don’t get proper care.”

Sonam Choden and the villagers are anxious to hear what the local priest might have to say.