Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Jala Lhakhang has been home to a three-day annual nyungne (religious or devotional fasting) for as long as anyone here can remember.  But not this year.  To avert the dangers of Covid-19, the lhakhang has organised prayers for Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) instead.

This has attracted more participation, particularly from elderlies.

According to Jala Tshogpa Kado, about 30 people from Jala were taking part in the three-day prayer recitation event.

Nyungne is more suited for younger and energetic people. For the elderlies it’s really difficult,” Rinchen Dorji, 68 said.

The practice of nyungne dates back to a highly realised Buddhist nun, Gelongma Pelmo.  Although born a princess in what is now Afghanistan, she became ill with leprosy and was banished from her country.

It is believed that she devoted herself to nyungne at the foot of Taktshang in Paro and ultimately cured herself of leprosy.

According to Damchoe Dorji from Jala, on the first day of the nyungne, participants took one meal (lunch) and begin fasting.  Then on, the participants do not eat, drink, or talk on the second day.

Jala Lhakhang Lam Nima said that due to these strict rules, it was challenging for the elderlies. “During nyungne, one isn’t even allowed to swallow one’s own saliva.”

Nyungne in Jala Lhakhang will be reintroduced next year if the pandemic situation improves.

“Chenrezig prayer is for the well-being of the sentient beings,” Lam Nima said.