Kumbu – the sacred cremation ground

Belief: The Kumbu cremation ground in Gangtey, Wangdue is considered one of the most sacred cremation grounds in the country. Locals say that, here, it is not necessary to clean the ashes after cremation. The ground cleans itself.

Located at the base of a rocky hill called Kumbu Bja, the Kumbu cremation is also one of the oldest.

Kenpo Singye Dorji of Gangteng Sanga Choling Goemba said that the name Kumbu could have been derived from Kubum because the many rocks on the hill resemble Buddha statues. Locals believe that the hill actually contains a thousand statues.

Sonam, an elderly local, said it is believed that there is a deity looking after the ground who does the cleaning. “On auspicious days, from the Juniper tree next to the cremation ground, one can see smokes coming out.”

The cremation ground is used by the people of Gangtey and Sephu. Old people prefer to be cremated at Kumbu because it is sacred.

There is a small goemba beside the cremation ground. It is believed that one Lama Tshendhen from Tibet founded the goemba. Monks from Gangteng Sanga Choling Goemba do the rituals.

The hill also has other sacred places. After crossing Kumbu, in a place called Thola, there is a footprint of the second Gangtey Trulku Tenzin Laypai Dendup. There are meditation caves.

Khenpo Singye Dorji said that the body of the deceased is taken to Gangteng Sanga Choling Goemba where monks conduct extensive rituals. Only then is the body taken to Kumbu for cremation where rituals for the dead will continue.

People are discouraged to make the cremation an expensive affair, said Khenpo Singye Dorji.

The Gangtey gewog is planning to construct a choekhang (prayer room) and a Thabkhug (mud oven for cremation) at Kumbu.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue

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