Tshewang Gyeltshen is a monk, who as expected, is garbed in maroon robes and makes his share of rounds performing rimdos for wellbeing of many a family.
What’s unusual about him is his shop, Tsirig Kuenphel Tewa, in a small rented room in Zangtopelri shopping complex in Thimphu.
In his shop, Tshewang is usually seated in his swirling office chair in front of a computer stationed close to a printer. On shelves pitched up on the walls are doe (sticks woven with coloured strings) used for various religious rites and rituals.
Tshewang’s expertise, having studied at Dechenprodrang monastic school and taught in Pangrizampa school of astrology, over a span of about 18 years, is astrology.
The shop provides service of divination for funeral rites, birth horoscope (Ketsi), compatibility of couples, zakar (day-to-day astrology) among others.
While established as a business, Tshewang Gyeltshen said his intention to set up the shop was mainly to meet the requirements and demand of people for astrological prediction and related works.
“There is no price tag for the services I offer,” he said. “I leave it up to the clients.”
This, he said, was to draw a line between business and service to people. “Often we’ve been asked to put to a price but we don’t want to because not everyone can afford to pay the same price.”
The main intention to start the shop over a year back, he said, was to provide people with astrological services. “At times teachers at Pangrizampa astrological school couldn’t keep up with the demand from people for astrological predictions.”
Tshewang Gyeltshen, had then requested his superior to start the shop.
Since establishing the shop, Tshewang has written over a 1,000 ketshis and thousands of other astrological predictions. To help run the shop he has two other partners, one of whom weaves doe required for rimdos.
While there is no shortage for clients, the shop is often kept locked. Few mobile numbers are scribbled on a paper stuck to the door.
“While we’d like to cater to our clients, there are others who need our services for rimdos and we can’t refuse them either,” Tshewang said. “But people call us on our mobile and make arrangements to meet them.”
Although it wasn’t started off as a commercial venture, Tshewang Gyeltshen said the three of them were able to pay the Nu 6,000 rent and be able to make some money for food and moving around the city.
“When we started we were worried we might not even make rent,” he said.
However, the shop does not provide services on Saturdays as it is bad for astrology events. “People who are in dire need of the service insist but we explained them the bad day for Astrology,” he said.
By Nima Wangdi