A 21-year-old Jangchub choeten, which lies close to the reinforced cement concrete (RCC) wall and the bridge in Trashigang town, remained untouched in the recent flood.

The areas around the choeten were covered with muck and debris.

The flash flood of July 22 in Trashigang, residents say is one of the biggest disasters that have hit the town in the recent times.

However, with technological advancement and state of art safety measures put in place, the town was saved from major damages.The recently completed RCC flood protection wall came to the rescue of the town, minimising damages to both life and proprieties.

While science proved its effectiveness in such situations, residents believe a higher power saved them.

The right side of the wall where the choeten is located is slightly lower than the left side. However, during the flood, muck and debris accumulated on the left side of the wall and had stopped a few inches before touching the choeten’s base.

Build in 1997 the choeten was specifically constructed to ward off disasters caused by fire, wind, water and earthquake.

A senior resident of the town, Tshewang Phuntsho, said that the flash flood that hit the town in 1994 caused major damage to the residents. “The flood flowed through the centre of the current lower market destroying prosperities along the way,” he said. “There was no choeten that time and the course of the flood was from the place where the choeten stands today.”

Following the incident, residents of the town led by late gomchen Lekden decided to build a choeten to prevent similar disasters in future.

Tshewang Phuntsho, who was one of the volunteers at the construction site, said that on the request of Lekden, Rangshikhar Rinpoche, Togden Jigme Chogyal Tshering, provided his personal carpenters and oversaw the choeten’s construction.

“The location of the choeten, its design including the zung (relic) that were put installed at the choeten were all provided by Rinpoche,” said Tshewang Phuntsho. The Rinpoche consecrated the choeten.

Inside the choeten, a stone slab with the carving of Drubthob Thangthong Gyalpo is placed facing north, the source of Mithimdrang stream, said Tshewang Phuntsho. “The stone slab was presented to the residents of Trashigang by the Dudjom Rinpoche to protect the place from flood disasters in the 1970s.”

There are other sacred items placed in the remaining three directions to ward off disasters.

“The recent flood is a proof of our beliefs,” he said. “Incidents like this allows us to have faith in our beliefs.”

Another resident, Sangay, said that it was the combination of science and religion that saved the town from the flood. “While the wall had served its purpose, we cannot rule out the importance of religion and our beliefs in times of disasters,” he said.

According to the dzongkhag engineers, a block from a boulder near the meat shop had caused the water to divert its course along the canal pushing the muck and debris to accumulate more on the left side of the wall.

Meanwhile, a group of 24 volunteers from Sherubtse College joined DeSuups, town residents and dzongkhag officials to clear the debris yesterday.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang