Culture: The government will support the department of culture to complete repair the remaining 1,229 vandalised choetens (stupas) across the country by the end of next year, 2016.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay committed “support in its (government’s) capacity” at the inaugural of the 6th national cultural conference in Thimphu yesterday. Lyonchoen said that since the department was able to repair 1,607 of the total 2,838 this year alone, repairing remaining should be made possible.

According to records with department of culture there are about 10,000 choetens and 2,000 lhakhangs and temples including dzongs in the country.

Records with police show that nearly 4,000 choetens and lhakhangs were vandalized in the last 27 years, which is about 148 a year. Last year police recorded a 12 percent increase in cases involving offence against the Ku-Sung-Thukten or statues, scriptures, and lhakhangs.

Meanwhile, the five days conference attended by cultural officers from the 20 dzongkhags will relook into the ‘misunderstood’ roles and responsibilities of dzongkhag cultural officers.

Officiating director of department of culture, Nagtsho Dorji said until today, cultural officers responsibilities were always misunderstood as just conducting chadis (preparation) when they are the key persons to preserve and promote culture in the society.

Cultural officer particularly were carrying out responsibilities such as handing and taking, and repairing of lhakhangs and giving etiquette trainings in the dzongkhag among others, she said.

“By the end of this conference, we will redefine the responsibilities of cultural officers, who are key person in promoting our culture,” she said adding that cultural officers moreover need to work together with Zhung Dratshang and Rabdey who currently own a lot of dzongs, lhakhangs and goendeys.

The conference will discuss ways to find better ways of preserving, conserving, promoting and protecting antiques, lhakhangs, dzongs, libraries, mask dances, other forms of traditional dances and national museums, which are key elements of Bhutanese culture.

Nirmala Pokhrel