Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse
More than 15,000 people from Lhuentse and Mongar thronged the Lhuendrup Rinchentse dzong on October 13 to receive blessings of longevity from one of the country’s most sacred statues of the Buddha of long life.
The crowd of men, women and children waited in queue for hours from early morning to view the speaking Buddha statue and get blessed.
The Buddha Amitabha (the Buddha of limitless life or Amitayus), and the relic is open to public viewing once a year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar following a week-long drupchen.
“I come almost regularly to get myself cleansed and pray for long life,” said an elderly woman, Sangay, from Baptong village. She walked for more than an hour to reach Khoma to hitch a ride to the dzong.
Another devotee, Kinzang Choden, 64, from Ladrong said she would feel empty and sad if she didn’t come for the blessings.
“Every time I receive the wang, I pray to have many more such opportunities,” she said. “I’ll come next year too.”
The origin of the statue dates back to the time of King Ashoka and is believed to have been swept down from Tibet. It is believed that the statue was discovered by a fisherman of the then Kidlung Gyalpo Wangchen Dharma from the confluence of Kurichhu and Kidlung chhu. It was kept in the Kidlung Lhakhang.
One account has it that the statue flew out of its lodge several times. The caretaker had to keep watch. The statue was even tied up with iron chains to prevent it from leaving the lhakhang. Finally, it shed the chains and flew off.
It was spotted at a place with three choetens called Nongma choeten (in Tshangla), and later on, in another place facing Lhuentse dzong by a woman from Jang village who was cutting grass.
Lhuentse Rabdey drungchen, Tashi Rabten, said the statue was made public after the Tshepamey Drupchog in the past. Later in 2016, a week-long Tshepamaed Drupchen was initiated to celebrate the Birth Anniversary of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey.
The Drubchen began on the third day of eight Bhutanese month with Bum Tashi and installation of Kilkhor.