We stepped off the train at Wengen to click some pictures of this scenic village. Out of nowhere, buttoning up his coat, a man in traditional costume made a dash through the crowds of curious tourists and vanished. As the train chugged off into the mountains, the people dispersed. The calm, charming village nestled in nature's lap, the breath-taking landscape and the sounds of lilting melody....was it all a dream? Some one was playing a pleasant instrument we couldn't identify.....where was this beautiful music coming from? We looked and looked and looked, till we saw them.......
An alphorn is a handcrafted, long, flaring spruce tube with a mouthpiece. It measures about 8 to 12 feet in length. It does not have any valves, holes or keys and hence gives pure, soft, clear and resonant music. It is used to call out to the cows.
There was more music now accompanying the alphorn...... cowbells! The sounds grew louder but there was not a cow in sight. Then they marched in.....Was that a wedding procession? Were they going to church? Like all curious on-lookers, we followed them........as they walked clanging the bells by knocking their knees against them in perfect tandem.
This was a "Cheese Festival". According to a Swiss folklore, as one of them kindly explained to me, at the end of summer the cows return from the high pastures of the Alps bringing the cheese with them. This home coming is celebrated by playing the alphorn and cowbells. The procession ended at this tent where there was more music, fun and games, and food, ofcourse for all the village folk who had gathered there!
Would you like to try.......
or say "cheese"?