An annual ritual held in every household, lochoe, remains significant as an evidence of the flourishing Vajrayana Buddhism in the country.

This was revealed during the three-day Vajrayana conference held in Thimphu last week.

The principal of Drolung Retreat Center in Thimphu,  Khenpo Sonam, said lochoe was first introduced by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel.

He said oral history shows that after Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel constructed numerous institutions in the country, he introduced lochoe. “Introducing the practice was recommended to benefit people in our country and also those around the world.”

Khenpo Sonam said Mahayana and Vajrayana are prominent in the country.

An abstract of his talk stated that Mahayana tradition derives from Bhutan’s historic ties with Tibetan people and their culture while Guru Padmasambhava spread the Vajrayana tradition.

Khenpo Sonam said that lochoe begins with the head of a family consulting an astrologer and requesting lamas and monks for the ritual.

He added that the ritual begins with monks and lamas offering prayer to protective deities, dakinis, great teachers and the protectors of the sangha. “It is meant to ward off misfortune and rejuvenate good karma in the household.”

“Lochoe is today seen as a reason for celebration among family members, a means to preserve the culture, and to engage in sacred mantra teaching,” he said.

Meanwhile, the conference, which concluded on March 30, also had talks from researchers and practitioners of Buddhism on topics such as meditation, yoga, Buddhism and neuroscience and Mantrayana practices in Vajrayana Buddhism.

The conference had more than 250 participants from over 33 countries. More than 50 speakers delivered talks at the conference.

The conference was conducted by Centre for Bhutan Studies and Gross National Happiness Commission.

Phurpa Lhamo