Ceremony: Coinciding with the 37th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King, the first ever Moenlam Chhenmo in Wangduephodrang began at the Tencholing military ground yesterday.

The Moenlam Chhenmo was presided over by His Holiness the Je Khenpo and will conclude on February 28.

Wangduephodrang dratshang’s Lam Lhatu, who is one of the coordinators, said the Moenlam Chhenmo was scheduled to start on February 21 on the recommendation of His Holiness the Je Khenpo to commemorate the King’s Birth Anniversary.

“We were extremely excited about the Moenlam Chhenmo, as it is not just the first time for Wangdue but also because the sacred Moenlam Chhenmo is being held coinciding with the Birth Anniversary of our precious King,” he said.

He added that the dzongkhag had conducted various Mani Drungdrups and other religious performances earlier on the command of His Holiness, who also decided the dates last year.

“After those events, we started working on how to raise funds for the Moenlam Chhenmo,” Lam Lhatu said.

Last month, the dratshang along with the health minister, civil servants, contractors and business people held a fund raising event in Thimphu, during which they collected about Nu 3.2 million (M).

They also held a similar fund raising event at hotel Pema Karpo in Wangdue since many could not show up during the event in Thimphu and collected Nu 3.6M.

Lam Lhatu said a Thimphu based resident, lopen Bokto, who is from Wangdue, contributed 10,000 religious books for the Moenlam Chhenmo.

He also said the dzongkhag administration, the armed forces of Tencholing, Wangdue police, health officials, schools, other offices and business people had contributed.

“It took more than a week to set up tents that could accommodate around 10,000 devotees and everyone has contributed in one way or another.”

Meanwhile, the Moenlam Chhenmo started with cultural dances and performances to celebrate the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King. School students in Wangdue and local dancers performed varieties of cultural dances.

The final tug of war game was played between the army and police. Winning three of the five rounds, the army team won.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk, who was also present at the celebration, handed out cash prizes to both the winning teams.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue