His Majesty The King conferred the Highest Civilian Decoration in the country, the Order of The Druk Gyalpo, to His Holiness the Je Khenpo, Trulku Ngawang Jigme Chhoedra on behalf of the people of Bhutan, in recognition of his lifetime of service to the nation.

The award was conferred only once to Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother, Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, and His Holiness Je Thrizur Tenzin Dendup in 2008.

His Holiness was born to Rinzin Dorji and Kuenzang Choden on the 15th of the 7th Bhutanese month of the wood sheep year (1955) with many auspicious birth signs. His Holiness became the 70th Je Khenpo in 1996.

His Holiness served as the principal to Tango Buddhist university, Drapai Lopon for four years and went on to become the Dorji Lopon in 1995 after conducting many major oral transmission, and initiations to the public.

His Holiness is renowned for taking major initiatives in the Dratshang to benefit the poor and the vulnerable sections of the society.

One of His Holiness’s renowned reforms in the monastic body was doing away with serving meat during religious ceremonies held in dzongs and government-owned shedras, drubdeys, lobdras, and goendeys, according to the dratsang lhengtshog. The February 2008 reform was replicated in villages during annual lochhoes much to the appreciation of many Bhutanese.

Except for a piece of meat (tshogsha), which is indispensable for the Sangag (Mantric) rituals, all meals served in the religious institutions are vegetarian.

On the initiative of His Holiness the Je Khenpo, in 2002, Bhutan banned the sale of meat during auspicious days and months of the Bhutanese calendar to save animal lives.

Recognising the financial burden on the poor, His Holiness banned offering cash and other offerings to the clergy during cremation ceremonies in July 2000. The people’s representatives in the National Assembly offered their deep gratitude to His Holiness the Je Khenpo. The peoples’ representatives then said that this gesture of His Holiness the Je Khenpo reflected the compassion of a Bhodisattva.

This initiative of His Holiness was of great benefit, particularly to the rural population and the poorer section of society, to whom the final rites for family members was becoming a social and economic burden.

The dratshang under the leadership of His Holiness also instituted a small lodra near the Thimphu cremation ground to conduct funeral rites for the deceased. This had helped the poor who cannot find monks or lhakhangs to conduct the post funeral rites.

Tshering Palden  | Samtse