Lhakpa Quendren

Gelephu – Following a major renovation, the Buddha statue at the Gelephu Sports Association ground has taken on a new appearance. The statue was consecrated yesterday.

In a strategic location near the four-arm roundabout en route to the main Gelephu town, anyone traveling via Gelephu can spot the majestic Buddha statue, formally known as Thubten Choekhorthang.

The Gelephu thromde administration started renovating the original 34-year-old statue last year, recognizing the need for restoration. The restoration, which included additional amenities, was completed at Nu 21 million.

Gelephu Thrompon Tshering Norbu said that as a Buddhist country, having a suitable sacred site is important to offer a space for people seeking spiritual peace. He added that people of all ages can visit to experience peace, especially during the morning and evening hours.

He said that visitors, including foreign tourists, can visit this place for free. “I believe imposing entry fees to holy sites contradicts the principles of Buddhism. We must ensure free access to holy sites to propagate Buddhism while also being tourist attractions.”

Sarpang Lam Neten Dawa Gyeltshen said that the Buddha statue is intended for the well-being of everyone in the country, especially those in Sarpang. He urged the people to visit the statue and continue accumulating merits.

The 12-feet tall statue, seated on 32 decimal land, features cemented benches for resting, eight large mani dungkhor (prayer wheels), a well-arranged slate pathway around the Buddha figure, and planted grass in the surroundings. And there is a plan to install a water tap at the site.

Besides, the statue is enclosed by toughened glass on all four sides with a clourful lighting system. The illumination on the strong walls and at the entrance has further enhanced the value of the site.

“We have placed several dustbins to facilitate proper waste management and maintain a clean environment for visitors to enhance their spiritual experience while circumambulating the Buddha,” Tshering Norbu said.

An elderly resident, Rinchen Biddha, said such places would encourage senior citizens to visit and engage in chanting and prostrations. “I will come to circumambulate every evening,” she said.

Samdrupling Tshogpa Balbir Rai said that having such holy places in the town is important, considering the scarcity of spiritual sites in Gelephu. “The renovation was timely, and the place now looks very appealing.”

The 68th Je Khenpo built the statue in the late 1980s after visiting Sarpang. This is to symbolise the Buddhist country in a special location in the southern area.