… three temples suffer from negligence in the absence of a proper caretaker

KP Sharma

The residents of Lingzhi gewog in Thimphu have requested the Zhung Dratshang (Central Monastic Body) to take over their community lhakhangs as they cannot manage them.

They said that this move would improve efficiency and better delivery of services to the community.

Lingzhi gewog administration stated that the insufficient manpower to oversee the three lhakhangs is challenging. The communities cannot maintain their functionality and ensure the delivery of adequate services to the people.

Lingzhi Gup Wangdi said that the gewog administration’s repeated requests have not been fruitful. The issue was also deliberated in the dzongkhag tshogdu but did not yield any concrete outcomes.

“The DT resolved to further review the need and apprise the relevant authorities in coming years,” the gup said.

Although these lhakhangs have historically served the communities and benefited the people, the management has become a challenge now due to a drop in population across settlements and difficulties in finding dedicated caretakers.

He said that in the past, community members used to take the responsibility of managing these lhakhangs as caretakers. “However, today there is a reluctance among the people to assume this responsibility.”

When they do not have caretakers, these lhakhangs often remain unattended and do not receive sufficient care including the daily offerings.

“When there is no one to look after them, the risk of theft also increases,” the gup said. “The lhakhangs are also vulnerable to arson and other man-made disasters when they are left unattended.”

Wangdi said that if the Zhung Dratshang takes over these lhakhangs, it could facilitate the appointment of dedicated caretakers and lams that would ultimately improve services and benefit the community.

“Lingzhi being a remote area, lacks a sufficient number of monks within the community making it challenging even to conduct a small ritual,” he said.

The gewog has asked residents adjacent to the temples to take responsibility in turns.

The caretakers, the gup said, fail to dedicate their time and resources to provide the necessary service even when they are paid by the community.

The shortage of human resources is worsened by the rural-urban migration with the majority of youths moving away from their communities, leaving only the elderly at home.

The majority of these lhakhangs are located away from the human settlements, exposing them to unforeseen incidents and presenting a challenge for the community to manage them effectively.