Yangyel Lhaden

High in the lush and marshy area at Ngabiphu, above the Royal Thimphu College, a group of locals have gathered to appease the local deity – Thangka Jilip. The plea this time is for rain. The source of the drinking water has failed this year.

Former farmers, now landlords, have come to pray for rain. Rain means replenishing the stream that feeds thousands downstream. It has not snowed this year. Water sources are drying up. Ngabiphu and Chamgang are the source of drinking water for Olakha and Babesa. There is not enough water. If the sources are seeing a decrease in water, the number of consumers have increased.

The source in Ngabiphu has only been enough to fill half of the water treatment plant’s 12-million per day capacity. Community water that most people depended on has also reduced. There are about 13 water pipelines connected from the water source.

Chamgang water source has dried over the years

New connections  to supply  water to the growing Debsi community  from Ngabiphu increased demand, worrying locals.

Desperate and helpless, community representatives from Babesa, Tshalumaphey, and Barp Lhakhang are appeasing to Thangka Jilip – hoping he would resolve the issue, after the government and the thromde could not.

After Thimphu became a city, people have neglected appeasing their local deity. Many believe that the shortage is due to failing their duties. A few relate to realistic problems like increasing population, failure in government policies and need-based planning.

A local resident of Tshalumaphey, Tashi,  said they have not appeased the deities.

Will the deity  answer prayers?

Locals believe that Thangka Jilip provided them abundant water, prosperous harvest, and good health every time they appeased him during their annual rimdro in their respective village Lhakhangs.

Gyeltshen, Tshogpa of Tshalumaphey said: “ It is not that times have changed. It is the people  that changed.” He said that appeasing the local deities always helped in the past.

Residents hope appeasing the deity will bring rain

Locals  believe that Thangka Jilip, a revered local deity, resides at Talakha. His realm encompasses the regions of Chamgang, Thimchhu and Ngagiphu – the source of water to the extended capital city.

Thangka Jilip was a monk and Lam of Talakha Sherub Gyeltshen made him the local deity,” Gyeltshen said.

According to Gyeltshen, Thangka Jilip lost a part of his jurisdiction to another deity called Ap Yasap.  Ashamed, Thangka Jilip changed his form to a cat and went to Talakha.

Tashi Pem, who hails from Ap Yasap house, still believes that appeasing  local deities would help.   The reality is that the thromde and the government has failed to tap the free flowing water from streams and rivers to make the capital city water sufficient.