Preparing for the first festival

Aum Boko squints her eyes and checks the scale very carefully. The cheese weighs 100 grams less than the agreed amount.

“This one is rejected!” she shouts.

People around burst in laughter. The person who brought the cheese protests, but Boko is immovable. She has been tasked to collect the local contributions.

The two communities of Lamga and of Rukha are preparing for the consecration of the two temples in their respective villages. The traditional practice in rural communities is for every household to contribute an agreed amount of rice, butter, cheese, oil and vegetable – basically things they produce, while they look for a sponsor (jindha in local language) to cover the other major expenses, such as offering for monks, and pay for imported items such as flour, fats, salt, sugar, meat, and tea. A large amount also goes to purchasing decorative items such as prayer flags.

For this event, I am the jindha. For over 15 years I have been one in this valley.

I first worked as a volunteer for a foundation that did their housings and sent children to school. When that project closed, I stayed back and helped the community stay together and work on collective projects like building community halls, and village temples. We built three – two in Rukha, and one in Lamga.

The deal has always been – I cover all the paid-out expenses, mainly buying the gilded statues and religious items, and roofing materials, cement, sand, stone aggregates, electrification and plumbing, while they did all the hard manual works.

It has been the greatest of collaborations.

So, a three-day grand celebration has been planned: one day of Tshobum – where we will honour our divinities, tutelary deities and our ancestors for their blessings and protection; one day of consecration (rabney) of the two temples at Rukha and at Lamga; and then close with a tshechu on the third day in honour of Guru Padmasambhava, and a tshe wang – a life empowerment blessing.

The covid-19 delayed both the construction as well as the consecration. It thus feels nice to be able to do this festival, as it will be giving a nice closing to my 15 years of service to the community. More importantly, we will celebrate their achievement of transforming from impoversished forest dwellers to successful farmers (Rukha is the only self-sufficient valley I know of in Bhutan).

As the day of the festival there is both the rush, and excitment. The valley will receive His Holiness Ganteng Trulku Rimpoche – the highest reincarnate Nyingma lama of Bhutan – whose lineage goes back to the 16th Century – to the great Terton (treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa. Sacred hagiography of Pema Lingpa relate his epic journey to look for the destined spot of Gangtey Gonpa.

This visit by the 9th Gangteng Rimpoche – the mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, will be a historic one. He follows the Second Gangtey Trulku, who visited the valley in the 17th century. We plan to commemorate this visit with annual Baza Guru Dungdrup – or even with a tshechu, from next year.

The legend continues.

#rukha #athang #preparation #community #prayerflag #temple #buddhism #tshogbum #tshogkor #rabney #tshewang #festival #maskdance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s