Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Mongar, like other dzongkhags in eastern Bhutan, is known for monks and lay monks. However, many villagers are finding it difficult to find monks (choeps) to conduct basic rituals at home.

In Zunglen village, Drepong gewog, conducting religious events and rituals for the dead has become challenging over the years due to lack of choeps in the village.

The far flung Zunglen gewog is six to seven kilometres away from the gewog center. Finding monks to conduct a cleansing ceremony has become a challenge. “It is expensive to get choeps from Mongar, but we have no option,” a villager, Jamtsho, said.

Recently, the community handed over the community temple to a lam who is also from the village and it’s expected to address the issue in the long run. The lam plans to start an institute with a small group of monks in the future although it is challenging to find youth interested in becoming a monk.

For this purpose, construction of a drasha (monk’s hostel) was completed recently. Although the community lhakhang, believed to be the seat of Tertoen Ratna Lingpa, is considered sacred, the lhakhang and drasha lacks basic infrastructure. There is no electricity or a kitchen to be used during monthly rituals.

Drepong gewog doesn’t have a crematorium compelling villagers to take the dead to Mongar and Khoma crematoriums. It is expensive.

“We pay Nu 3,000 to reserve a pick-up truck to take the body to Mongar. A crematorium in the gewog would be of immense help,” a villager said.

Former Drepong gup, Sangay Tenzin, said the need for a crematorium in the village is genuine. He said that the issue was raised  at the DT several times after the people in the gewog requested. “However, it was dropped due to lack of budget.”