The International Steam Pages
Bless this House, Dakhondaing 2009
This is part of our second 2009 Burmese Odyssey. To read more about it which includes many non-steam items, please see Rob and Yuehong in the Golden Land 2009, Part 2.
We are back in Burma again in late September 2009 to try to complete filming for a DVD about the village of Dakhondaing and its steam powered rice mill. If you want the background to this page, there are reports of our 2005, 2006 and earlier 2009 visits available. During our visit earlier this year we asked about the special events in the village and it was clear that the prime time in the year would be around the October Full Moon some time after which the harvest would start. Unfortunately this year it falls very early on October 3rd which means that the monsoon rains have yet to clear, it is still rather hot and very humid and there is a real chance of a heavy shower at any time.
As we came down on the bus from Moulmein, I said to Yuehong that what we really needed to start the film was a really good and relevant sequence with the monks from the local monastery. In the kind of places we work in rural Asia, religion tends to be a very positive force in the local culture and after featuring Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, this is the turn of Buddhism - although strictly, of course, it is more of a philosophy than a religion as such. First though, we needed some detailed information on what was likely to actually happen during the celebrations and afterwards and to be safe we had arrived several days early. Although the mill was not working today, our host was there as normal and soon Han was politely quizzing her with a set of questions from us:
The village would not hold its celebrations until October 6th and worse, she would not start harvesting her own land until at least 8 days after the Full Moon - in the event the fields were waterlogged until the end of the month. This would leave us with an awful lot of dead time and while I had a few side-trips up my sleeve, this was not welcome news - the only way to deal with the situation would be to split the filming and fill the gap by bringing forward a possible revisit to the south part of Irrawaddy Division which Han assured us was once again fully accessible. We might just squeeze everything in within our 4 week visa although originally we had hoped to stay no more than 2 weeks. Alas it was not to be and we shall have to come back again..
However, there was a silver lining to the metaphorical clouds for serendipitiously she had arranged for 5 monks to visit later today both as a blessing and as a safety insurance - my earlier request had been granted and to boot the rain and clouds which had followed us since our arrival in the country vanished leaving a beautifully lit afternoon. Spot on time at 16.00, they emerged closely followed by our host's husband who had been sent to fetch them
We had just one video camera with us - only included at the last minute 'just in case' and it was a hot and sweaty 'chase and and shoot' as they marched through the village.
Yuehong did her best to grab some stills without getting in my way as the ceremony progressed:
The monks put in a thoroughly professional performance, worthy of the medieval Roman Catholic church. As the monastery's number one supporter she was guaranteed the attendance of the abbot himself.
The family joined in the 'service' with rapt attention:
Even the two trishaw men who would take us back to the junction for our bus joined in from a discreet distance:
Finally it was all over, a donation to the monastery was made by our lady and we could make our way back to the turn off, just in time for the last bus back to Moulmein. Job done!
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson