Tribute: Led by Dorji Lopon of the Zhung Dratshang, lopons and senior monks consecrated, the country’s biggest golden butter lamp at the Druk Wangyal lhakhang, Dochula  on the morning of  November 9.

Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck presided over the consecration, which was also attended by the prime minister, cabinet ministers, the armed force services’ top brass, and many guests.

A stirring chanting of the Zhabten (long life prayer) to His Majesty the Fourth King to whom the biggest butter lamp was dedicated reverberated at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum named the golden butter lamp “Eternal Flame of Gratitude” to the Great Fourth or Sithar Selwai Khoryug in Dzongkha. The members of the royal family including an eminent infant trulku Vairotsana first lighted the multiple and floating wickers of the lamp. The luminosity of many flames of the golden lamp heightened the blaze of the lamp made of pure gold.

The golden butter lamp rises to four and half feet, with another foot of intricate stand of silver. The flames of the eternal gratitude fuelled by 28 kilograms of clarified butter in its bowl glistened in front of the towering statues of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang.

Dasho Karma Ura, who designed and supervised its metalwork, told the audience that Her Majesty desired the offering-artefact to be unsurpassed in size, value and artistic quality. The shape of the stand of the lamp is victory-stupa inside which the priceless relic fillings were inserted.

Victory stupa was first built to commemorate prolonging of Lord Buddha’s life in Vaishali. “In choosing the sacred geometry of victory stupa for ‘Eternal Flame of Gratitude’, the same wish and aspiration of the Bhutanese to seek long life for His Majesty the Great Fourth will be fulfilled,” Her Majesty said.

Every square centimetre of the stupa has impeccably made gold figures of animals and birds, gods and celestial beings, plants and flowers from Bhutan, symbolic and non-symbolic objects that make the abstract concepts behind the geometry of victory stupa strike the viewers with their striking beauty. ‘Eternal Flame of Gratitude’ is mounted with 216 gems adding to its structure in pure gold.

The exterior of the golden bowl of the Eternal Flame of Gratitude features two-inch thick reliefs of six portraits resting on a circle of eight auspicious signs. The portraits show Desi Jigme Namgyel, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, King Jigme Wangchuck, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, first Je Khenpo Paykar Jungney and Je Gedun Rinchen. Their radiant golden visages in halos are set in lush wreath of ornamental flowers. They not only represent successive Kings and chief abbots but also harmony and unity between Buddhism and State.

On the same day, Her Majesty donated a bronze butter lamp similar in size (with a capacity of 25 kg of butter) and worksmanship but different in detail, which was gilded completely in gold and mounted with 210 gems. It was installed in the monk’s assembly hall (kuenrey) of Punakha dzong) yesterday. The two butter lamps together took five goldsmiths 11 months to complete. Both lamps have hidden heating devices that can be switched on and kept at certain room temperature so that freezing of butter will not occur.

The stupa architecture correspondence to cosmos and the eternal light symbolizes the dispelling of darkness, ignorance and conflict in the cosmos. The light radiating also symbolizes illumination of people’s mind with virtues, peace and harmony.

The golden reign of His Majesty the Fourth King brought similar brightness and peace in the life of all Bhutanese people. “Eternal Flame of Gratitude will remain a lasting and high point of celebration to honour his legacy, thanks to Her Majesty the Queen Mother,” Dasho Karma Ura said.

Rinzin Wangchuk