Chewing doma: myth to tradition

Man chewing doma

Myth has it that the inhabitants of Bhutan traditionally known as Monyul, the land of Monpas where Buddhism did not reach lived on raw flesh, drank blood and chewed bones. After the arrival of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, he stopped the people from eating flesh and drinking blood and created a substitute which is betel leaf, lime and areca nut. Today, chewing doma has become a custom. Doma is served after meals, during rituals and ceremonies. It is offered to friends and is chewed at work places by all sections of the society and has become an essential part of Bhutanese life and culture.

Traditionally betel leaves, areca nuts and lime were carried in silver containers. It is fascinating to see people of all categories wiping betel leaf, putting a dash of lime on it and then wrapping it around a piece of areca nut before eating it. It is also possible to get ready made quid (doma khamto) in small shops or from petty sellers.

oma is offered as present when visiting villages. Doma is shared with friends and even with acquaintances. It is an element that brings people closer, from stranger to acquaintance and acquaintance to friends. Romantic relations are also built over a quid (khamto) of doma.

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