To many, it was an emotional moment
Reconstruction: It was a moment of pride as the reconstruction project of Wangdue Dzong achieved another milestone with the consecration ceremony of the kuenrey, yesterday.
The three-storey kuenrey is the first phase of the reconstruction project, which began in 2014, after the dzong was razed by a fire in June 2012.
The grand ceremony that was presided over by His Holiness the Je Khenpo was also graced by His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen.
Consecration prayers began as early as 4am in the morning.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay along with other cabinet ministers, members of parliament and high-level delegates also attended the daylong ceremony.
Thousands of people from across Wangdue, Punakha and Thimphu came to witness the ceremony, and also to offer their warm wishes and prayers for HRH The Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck. The ceremony also marked 400 years of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s arrival in Bhutan.
“It is overwhelming to see the progress and to take part in such an auspicious ceremony, and to get a glimpse of our King and Queen was just happiness in itself,” said 76-year-old, Tshering, of Changyul, Thimphu.
“I could not stop crying when I saw the flames that night,” said 73-year old Penjore from the village of Japhu, who had come to attend the consecration ceremony. Penjore did not think the dzong would ever stand again.
“It was not just a dzong for us but a legacy of the great Zhabdrung, and the result of people’s hard work and sacrifice,” he said.
“I still remember how we contributed zhabto-woola for months for the dzong renovation when I was a teenager,” said Penjore. “Without a road and modern technologies, people had to do everything with their hands back then.”
The country was poor and couldn’t afford to hire hundreds of labourers unlike today, he explained. “But despite the sweat and hardship we endured, it was always a happy labour,” he said.
While only the kuenrey has been completed for 56-year-old Tshering Wangmo of Gaselo, it felt like the entire dzong had already been reconstructed. “We can’t contribute financially, but it gives us immense joy and sense of pride even to take part in such a ceremony,” she said.
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built Wangdue Dzong in 1638. Following the dzong’s construction, the country is said to have been unified.
The dzong was constructed after the local deity Yeshey Goenpo (Mahakala) approached Zhabdrung in a disguised form and advised him that if he built a dzong on a hill resembling a sleeping elephant, he could unite the country. During that time, Zhabdrung was at Chimmi Lhakhang.
The dzong was later renovated twice after a fire incident in 1837, and an earthquake in 1897. The dzong was completely destroyed in a fire accident on the evening of June 24, 2012.
Following the fire, His Majesty The King commanded that the dzong be rebuilt.
Around Nu 1.3 billion has been secured through various donations from within and outside the country for the reconstruction project. Actual works for the reconstruction project took off in September 2014.
As of now, the project director Kinley Wangchuk said the foundation work for the utse is under full swing and expected to be completed by mid-May.
The utse foundation will be seismic resistant, the first of its kind in Bhutan, and designed by Wattgalmarini, a Swiss firm. Around 50 percent of the masonry works for the administration block has been completed, he said.
Currently there are 350 workers including carpenters, masons and casual labourers. Following changes to the design of the utse last year, the completion of the dzong has been deferred to 2021 from 2018.
The project director said that as of now Nu 226 million has been spent, of which materials worth Nu 26 million have been stocked.
Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue