Prayer: More than 3,000 devotees from Samdrupjongkhar and the nearby eastern dzongkhags have gathered in Samdrupjongkhar middle secondary school to attend a weeklong moenlam chenmo (great prayer ceremony), which began yesterday.

Presided over by His Holiness Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choeda, this is the first moenlam chenmo to be conducted in Samdrupjongkhar with about 200 monks and nuns from Thimphu, Pemagatshel and Samdrupjongkhar dratshangs.  The dzongkhag and thromde initiated the moenlam chenmo, which will be an annual event henceforth, through their own contributions, and donations from corporations.

Dzongkhag cultural officer Sangay Tashi, who is also a member of the organising committee, said this was being conducted to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, besides offering prayers for the well being of tsa-wa-sum.

Sangay Tashi said the event was planned for years but it failed to materialise owing to security issues and other issues.

“But this year, with support from the civil servants, gups, corporate and private employees, the committee could organise the event,” he said, adding there was no separate budget allocation for the event.

“All employees, including the gups, agreed to contribute Nu 100 every month from their salary for the event since last year,” he said, adding the dratshang monks also contributed Nu 100 a month.

Private individuals also contributed, while Druk Satair and SD Eastern Bhutan Coal company donated Nu 150,0000 and Nu 250,0000 respectively.

“For next year we’ll keep the rolling budget from this year,” he said.

Devotees are provided free transportation and accommodation near the wang khang, besides three meals a day, including tea.  Those, who want to sponsor tea and lunch in groups, can pay Nu 15 for tea and Nu 20 for food per head.Meanwhile, devotees said they were blessed to be part of the prayer ceremony.

The event will conclude on January 19 with a day scheduled for tsewang (long life blessing).

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar