The dzongkhag chapter of the Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan (HDSB) in Tsirang recently wrote to the dzongkhag administration staking ownership to a temple located near Damphu Higher Secondary School, which the chapter says is traditionally Hindu.

Members of the HDSB lodged the complaint when a group of people announced that they would install an idol of “Kirat Guru” (religious master) in the temple on February 21. The temple is also called the Prabu temple as the place is locally known as Prabu Dara.

The group identify themselves as followers of what they call the Kirati religion, which they imported from Nepal.

The Kirati people claimed ownership of the temple a few years ago and have been organising gatherings at the temple since. They comprise Rais and Limbus (Subba) who broke from Hunduism some years ago.

The group withdrew their plan to install the idol of their religious master but displayed posters of their guru. The group also sought to organise a public function at the temple.

An active member of the local chapter of HDSB, UN Bhattarai, said: “We wrote to the dzongkhag administration requesting the authority to stop the plan.”  The complaint letter stated that the group was not registered as a religious organisation and that it should not be allowed to organise public functions.

The group had printed and distributed invitation cards under the banner “Kirati Association of Bhutan with a logo” of its own. They had also invited people for the planned installation of idols.

Members of the Kirat group say they want to register their group as a religious organisation. A founding member of the group, RD Subba, claimed that the motive of their plan was to “preserve the community’s culture and tradition.”

According to sources, some members of the group claims that the group is one of the branches of Hinduism. However, the HDSB does not buy the group’s claim and says that there was no need to form a separate group if they were one of the branches of Hinduism.

According to the HDSB, there are nine Panthas or branches of Hinduism in the country.

Members of the HDSB believe that formation of new religious group would not serve the best interests of the country. They say that any group of people who call themselves a religious organisation should be allowed to organise functions only if they are registered with the Commission for Religious Organisations.

As asked by the Commission for Religious Organisations (CRO), the HDSB on March 2 submitted a detailed report on the history and status of the Kirati group and how it spread in Bhutan. The HDSB wants all the members of their community to subscribe to their age-old traditions.

Meanwhile, the HDSB has announced that its annual general meeting will be held in Thimphu on March 27. Changes in the board of directors and other office bearers of the organisation are the expected outcomes of the meeting.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang