Devotees overwhelm Pangrizampa with ready-made offerings despite a notice saying not to

Religion: Pangrizampa lhakhang in the capital receives more than 30 sacks of packaged tshok (offering) everyday. A notification at the entrance of the lhakhang that requests people not to bring packaged tshok during the nine-day Jana Chidey ritual does not stop devotees from bringing packet foods.

Long lines of hawkers are seen along the road outside the lhakhang, selling ready-made tshok bags. There are many plastic wrapped items such as chips, biscuits, noodles and sweets inside the plastic bags.

A hawker, Pema, said he did not know about the notification and he would sell packaged tshok as long as there are people buying them.

One of the monks collecting plastic bags of tshok at the lhakhang said that they did not have a choice but to accept them when people brought them. The monks put plastic wastes in garbage sacks provided by Clean Bhutan, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes reduction of wastes. The plastic wastes will be collected by the NGO after the ritual.

A lopen with the Pangrizampa lhakhang, Rinzin Wangchuk, said the lhakhang faced a problem with managing wastes after such rituals every year as a large number of devotees were bringing many packages of foods. Another lopen, Sonam Rinchen, said Clean Bhutan advised the management of the lhakhang to discourage the public from bringing packaged tshok.

Sonam Deki, who was carrying a big plastic bag full of packaged tshok said she was not aware that plastic wastes would be an issue until she saw the notice.

“If I had known about it, I would not have brought packaged tshok. It would have been better if people were notified through BBS,” said Sonam Deki. “I am sure people will avoid bringing packaged foods as tshok if they knew the problem.”

Another devotee, Khandu, who does not know how to read said putting a notification is useless for illiterate people like her.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, in an earlier interview, explained that when devotees make offerings they practice detachment and generosity. “When we make offerings, we need to put an effort and buying packed foods or processed foods can be sort of lazy.”

Nawang Dema, 57, said now most lhakhangs and goenpas discourage devotees from bringing packaged tshok. “I thought fruits are better for tshok so I brought fruits today,” she said.

Every evening, the monks in the lhakhang distributes tshok to the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital and Royal Bhutan Police in Thimphu.

Some oil for butter lamps and incense sticks are distributed to lhakhangs and goenpas in the remote areas in the country.

“It seems some people were informed about the notification because it has been five days since the ritual started and amount of packaged tshok received are less this year,” said Rinzin Wangchuk.

By Dechen Tshomo