A Bhutanese Love Story

We were told that this is the ruins of the house of  a beautiful young Bhutanese girl named Galem.  This story takes place is the early to mid 1800’s.  At that time the Governors of the Dzongkhag ( the district ruled from the Dzong) were “all-powerful”.  This house is near the Punakha Dzong, and that is the location of this story as well.

Galem was a sweet girl and she fell in love with a young man named Singay who worked for the Governor of Punakha. 

Unfortunately the Governor noticed the beautiful Galem and claimed her as his own future bride  She demurred, but of course, eventaually the Governor noticed that the real problem seemed to be her interest in Singay.   So Singay was sent off to Gasa – at least week’s travel away.

The Governor’s pursuit of Galem continued, but she pined only for Singay.  Singay was tring to return, but having problems.  Galem’s parents pled with her, not wanting to lose their farm or house.  Not being able to take it anymore, but not able to bear being the xth wife of the old Goernor, Galem threw herself in the river and died. 

Singay finally made it back, just in time for the cremation of Galem.  He tried to fight his way to the bier, but the crematin grounds were thronged with mourners.  He had brought back a special thin-skinned walnut from Gasa.. he threw them in the air and people scattered trying to get them.  While they were distracted he threw himself on the bier and died.  And noone has wanted to live in the house Galem came from ever since.

True love in medieval Bhutan.  A popular story and most likely has some roots in truth.   Not sure I believe that is the house, though.  I don’t think that constuction would have lasted that long without maintenance.

Here’s a YouTube Video of the love song of Singay and Galem – very sweet.

3 Replies to “A Bhutanese Love Story”

  1. Julia,
    Welcome home! I just spent over an hour viewing your journal and admiring your courage! WOW! That must have been a fantastic experience and one you will always be grateful for.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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