His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and thousands of devotees celebrated the consecration of the restored Gangteng Goenpa (Gangtey Goenpa), an important centre of the Peling tradition and a landmark in Bhutan’s spiritual history.
The ceremony was conducted on October 10 by the incarnations of Pema Lingpa and guest trulkus, invoking the blessings and essence of the wisdom of Lama Norbu Gyamtsho, a sacred Peling scripture discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa in south Tibet, and the Gurdag, which is dedicated to the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche. The ceremonies were performed to empower the lhakhang and its sacred images as well as a new Sampa Lhuendrup Thongdroel, that was first unfurled in September. The religious ceremonies were performed in four directions by monks, nuns and lay monks from 13 religious institutions that follow the Peling tradition.
The Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley, said that the government was making every effort to preserve the diversity of the Mahayana traditions in Bhutan. “The Peling tradition is very important for Bhutan and the consecration symbolised the resurgence and sustainability of this tradition,” he said. “At one stage there was the feeling that the Peling tradition was on the decline but now, with the three trulkus all active in Bhutan, there is a resurgence.”
The Prime Minister said that Bhutan’s Kings were descendants of Pema Lingpa, so the restoration of the lhakhang and the resurgence of the Peling Tradition also symbolised the aura of Bhutan’s Monarchy.
The restoration of Gangteng Goenpa also expresses Bhutan’s conservation ethics, reversing a trend where conservation was becoming reconstruction and traditional mud, wood, and stone were being replaced by cement and acrylic. In one of the more impressive restoration efforts in recent years, the Gangteng Trulku, with the support of the government, spared no effort and cost to preserve 395-year lhakhang in its original form.
The consecration was also attended by Their Majesties the Queens and His Royal Highness Dasho Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers, and devotees from Bhutan and around the world. Of the Gangteng Trulkus’ 1,000 or so international students and followers more than 100 were camped in the Gangteng valley for the ceremony. They included a group from Khunnu in Himachal Pradesh, India, where Pema Lingpa had spread his teachings.
Mr. Michael McClelland, who was involved with the restoration from the start, described this visit as a “terrific experience to see the restoration and the consecration”. He said he was struck by the sheer beauty of the lhakhang and the organisation of the consecration ceremony. “It’s a once in a life time experience,” he told Kuensel.
The devotees included interpreters, scholars, tertiary students of Buddhism, and full time practitioners. “For practitioners it’s so important to see the sacred relics and inner treasures,” said a follower from France. “This time we also got to see the fourth King himself. I don’t want to go back.”
A resident of Gangteng village said that the people were extremely worried when the monastery was dismantled eight years ago. “Today, we are happy to re-live the moment in 1613 when our lhakhang was built,” she said. “It was special because of the presence of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo.”
“This is what we leave behind for future generations,” said a 65-year old farmer from Phobjikha. “This is what you’re leaving for the world,” said a devotee from Switzerland.