The 50 Things You Must Do in Asia

By Hanya Yanagihara - 2013-07-23T16:27:10Z

Photograph by Imagebroker/Alamy

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Light a Yak-Butter Fertility Candle: Bhutan

The temple, built in 1499, commemorates a sort of bad boy of Buddhism, who came from Tibet and won over the Bhutanese by skillfully conquering a number of pesky demons (Chimi’s other interests included drinking, partying, and womanizing). Along the way, he also acquired a reputation for blessing women with children, and so on the way up, you’ll see that the houses in the surrounding village are painted with huge phalluses, and in the temple itself, you’ll find families with squirming babies and kids, back to thank Chimi for his beneficence. You too can light the traditional five yak-butter candles, after which the monk will pour into your palms a splash of saffron-scented holy water. Take a sip (or at least hold it up to your mouth), and then rub it into your head and throat. Outside, you’ll circle the bodhi tree clockwise, as you always do around Buddhist sites, whether you’re circling a stupa, a temple, a prayer wheel, or a tree.

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