Nima Wangdi

People visit Dechenphu Lhakhang early in the morning with animal hearts, almost every day. Offering animal hearts to seek divine help and blessings has been a long-standing tradition at Dechenphu Lhakhang in Thimphu.

This powerful protecting deity, Genyen Jagpa Melen, is believed to hold a heart in one of his hands, leading people to believe that he should be offered animal hearts as a form of offering.

However, the Lam Nubchog of Dechenphu Lhakhang says that is not a good practice. “Offering vegetarian food items such as clean vegetables with cheese and butter, and eggs would be more appropriate.”

He further emphasises that bringing animal hearts as a form of offering is not a good idea as it goes against the dharma. Despite these requests, people continue to visit the Lhakhang with animal hearts, with some bringing boiled hearts while others prefer bringing them raw.

His Holiness the Jekhenpo has always been asking people to refrain from making flesh offerings.

People seek help and blessing by offering animal hearts when they have important tasks. They also return with hearts to pay gratitude to the protector after their plans have been successful.

While some of the hearts are fed to the dogs in the Lhakhang premises, others are dried and used during rituals.

A few years back, the Lam Nubchog requested that people refrain from bringing packaged tshog, which was causing environmental issues. However, this practice has started again.

A monk said that with more people going abroad, the number of people making heart offerings is also increasing. There were about 16 hearts one day. ”Making an offering of such flesh doesn’t really look good and the practice may be the holdover of Bonism which was popular in the country in ancient times.”

It is important to note that Dechenphu Lhakhang holds a significant place in Bhutanese history. It was founded in the 12th century and is the residence of Genyen Jagpa Melen. The name of the Thimphu Valley originated from this Lhakhang, further emphasizing its historical and cultural significance.

As the number of animal hearts being offered continues to increase, it is important to consider the Lam Nubchog’s requests while still seeking divine help and blessings in whatever way possible.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the tradition and find alternative offerings that are more in line with the teachings of the dharma while still seeking divine aid.