Tshering Chhe Nga (Dzongkha: ཚེ་རིང་མཆེད་ལྔ་) means “five Tshering sisters” and refers to the five demigods (lhamayin in Dzongkha), who are revered as Dharma Protectors (dharmapala) by the Kagyu and Nyingma school of Vajrayana Buddhism.
Legend has it they once wandered around the Himalayas along Tibet-Nepal border, terrorising pilgrims and meditators, before they were subdued by Guru Padmasambhava, and later by Milarepa, into becoming tutelary deities. Their abode is considered to be the Mt. Dhaulagiri at the India-Tibet border.
Being worldly deities (འཇིག་རྟེན་པའི་ལྷ།), Tshering Chenga are believed to also help with mundane things like wealth, success and health to those who seek them.
Paro is believed to host all the Tsheringma sisters, making it a prosperous valley. The sacred abodes of the sisters are Dzongdrakha – Tinghi Zhay Zangma (Deity of the East), Gangteng Lhakhang – Talkar Dro Zangma (North), Drangoe Gonpa – Tashi Tsheringma (Centre), Tengchen Gonpa – Miyo Lang Zangma (South), and Ramna – Choepen Drin Zangma (West).
The cult of Tsheringma, however, spreads across all Himalayan cultures. For example, Mount Everest is believed to be an abode of Miyo Langzangma – second eldest of the Tsheringma sisters. Thus, they’re revered by the Sherpas of Nepal, and every Sherpa who climbs Mt. Everest prays to Miyo Lang Zangma, for which they are considered as the most reliable guides to the peak.
While every sister is as good as the other in terms of bestowing protections and blessings, there are few subtle differences.
• Tashi Tseringma (བཀྲ་ཤིས་ཚེ་རིང་མ་), the eldest and the all-purpose Tsheringma, is for seeking long life, and for auspiciousness in major undertakings.
• Miyo Lang Zangma (མི་གཡོ་གླང་བཟང་མ་) is for receiving blessings of cattle and good harvest.
• Chöpen Drin Zangma (ཅོད་པན་མགྲིན་བཟང་མ་) to help with fulfilling any wish – be it for having offsprings or wealth.
• Talkar Dro Zangma (གཏལ་དཀར་འགྲོ་བཟང་མ་) to help fight off diseases, envy and sorcery.
• Thinggi Shyal Zangma (མཐིང་གི་ཞལ་བཟང་མ་ ) to wish for victory, charm and safe journeys.
While there’re no religious requirements, it is believed that if one visits all the Tsheringma sisters in one day, they protect you and help you prosper.
I made an unplanned visit today to all the Tshering Che Nga temples in Paro. I had gone to Dzongdrakha for a leisurely Sunday morning drive/walk, when the lama there told me that today is Full Moon day and I should visit all the Tsheringma sisters.
There are several versions as to where to start and where to end the pilgrimage. I conducted a detailed pilgrimage and some research to all the sites last year. My suggestion is, visit in this order: Drangoe Gonpa, Tengchen Gonpa, Ramna House, Gangteng Lhakhang, and Dzongdrakha Lhakhang, so that we follow the traditional kar-ser-mar-jang pattern.
Or simply, just visit Dzongdrakha, which is believed to house the three aspects of devotion and reverance – Ter (relic), tehn (inner relic) and nye (sacred place).
Or if you are walking, follow the traditional itinerary, which starts from Dzongdrakha and ends in Ramna.