I was specially invited by the fifth incrarnate lama (i.e. Rinpoche) of Padtselling Gonpa monastery in Bumthang to attend their annual ritual. If the fifth reincarnation of a lama invited you to an event, wouldn't you accept even if it's a ten hour drive each way? Even if you're an atheist?
Not only is the Bumthang valley located ten hours drive from Thimphu but the monastery itself is an additional one hour drive (14 km) up a very steep unsealed switchback trail. Even in a 4x4, there were many stalls that required the men to get out and push. It was during one of these pushing pauses halfway up that I saw these horses.
Here's how Jakar Town looks from the final destination.
I spent the day wandering around the monastery grounds, popping into the ritual itself at times and being served meals and tea at frequent intervals.
Although the Rinpoche encouraged me to take as many pictures as I liked, even inside the main hall, I tried taking a few photos in a casual way without looking at the viewfinder as not to attract attention to myself. I like how these two turned out.
I had never before spent a full 12 hours at a religious institution of any kind, so it was interesting to see the daily routine there and also to photograph the change in the light from hazy morning sky to strong afternoon sunlight to soft, yellow butterlamp glow.