Some distance above Ungar village in Metso Gewog in Lhuentse is a curiously tilted ridge which the locals say houses and represents the village’s guardian deity, Phushing Liphung Tsangpo.
The ridge lists to the right, supposedly the result of a right-handed slap on the deity’s face by her husband, Numgmabri.
The legend goes that, one day, Phushing refused to entertain Numgmabri as she was busy weaving. Numgmabri got annoyed and tried to steal the weaving thread and run away but Phushing was quick enough to stop him by hitting him with the tam (weaving beater), resulting in a deep cut to the head. Numgmabri responded by slapping her so hard her face became tilted.
It is said that Numgmabri and Phushing parted ways thereafter. He settled down in Tongebi - Galiping village in the same gewog while she stopped weaving altogether. To this day, her remorse continues to be borne by the women in Ungar. None of them weave.
Like all the men in the village, Ugyen Tenzin, 63, believes their women bear the after-effects of Phushing and Numgmabri’s fight in another way. “The elders used to tell us that the vagina is crooked because Phushing is crooked,” he said.
The women, though, beg to differ. They said the men’s belief is a fallacy. Phushing may be crooked but the vagina is straight.
Phushing is very powerful and demands a lot of attention from the people living in the locality, according to Tashi from Dala village. Conversely, the people demand her attention too, seeking her divine help whenever a child falls ill. Each year, people climb up to a hill overlooking their deity’s abode. They make ceremonial cakes, 105 phalluses and offer locally brewed wine. Tashi Dendup said this brought moderate rain to the village. He said the phalluses kept excess rain away and so prevented floods in the village.
He said that if people disturbed her by shouting and whistling, the village experienced sudden downpours and violent wind. During the festival, a serkem (wine libation) is offered to the deity. Children from each household offer an egg each while the womenfolk offer delicious varieties of food. The local tsip (astrologer) evokes Phushing with the serkem ritual and local games follow.
Jangchuk Dema from Ungar said the ceremonial cake is put on a treetop where, each year, two crows come without fail to eat. She said if the crows are disturbed, by people throwing stones, for example, Phushing punishes the village in her unmistakably temperamental way, with sudden downpours and violent wind.