Special Zhabdrung Kuchoe this year

His Royal Highness The Gyalsey will receive His name today

Events: Coinciding with the auspicious occasion of Zhabdrung Kuchoe, His Royal Highness The Gyalsey will receive His name from the most sacred Machhen Lhakhang at Punakha dzong, commonly known as Pungthang Dewachengi Phodrang, today.

This year marks the 400th year of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s arrival to Bhutan. This occasion is spiritually sacred, and historically and politically significant.

Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel gave the country its identity, in terms of its culture, laws and administrative system. He introduced the dual system of administration, and naming HRH The Gyalsey on this auspicious day is in conformity with the history, tradition and culture of the country.

Inside the great Puna Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang Dzong will be hundreds of monks who will recite one hundred thousand prayers of Jigten Wangchuk (Avalokishterava).

The recitation of the Jigten Wangchuk mantra is dedicated to the naming of HRH The Gyalsey, which will take place at the dzong today.

Zhung Dratsang’s Tsula Lopen Samten Dorji said that Jigten Wangchuk is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. The recitation will proffer blessings that will benefit the country and the people.

The recitation of the heart essence of Avalokitesvara will bring well-being and good health to The Gyalsey and, in turn, will bless the country and the people with peace and prosperity, said the Tsula Lopen Samten Dorji.

At the same time, Zhabdrung Dagnami Sungchhoe, which will also be dedicated to the good health of The Gyalsey, will be held at the kuenray of the Dzong.

According to Tsula Lopen Samten Dorji, the Zhabdrung Dagnami Sungchhoe is a comprehensive teaching about Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and the southern tradition of Drukpa Kagyu, which was composed by Lam Serkong Dorji Chang based on the prophesy of Guru Rinpoche.

Lam Serkong Dorji Chang was the spiritual master of the First King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. It is believed that when Lam Serkong Dorji Chang was at a retreat in Guru Rinpoche’s cave at Kurje Lhakhang in Bumthang, he had a vision of Guru Rinpoche, who instructed him to compose the Zhabdrung Dagnama.

Zhabdrung Dagnama consists of complete sets of prayers on Buddha Amitayus, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

The prayers are also being held to mark 400 years of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s arrival in Bhutan. It was on this day (10th day of the third Bhutanese month) that Zhabdrung entered Parinirvana.

The birth of The Gyalsey on the birth year of Guru Rinpoche and 400 years of Zhabdrung’s arrival in the country signifies the union of combined wisdom and knowledge of Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung.

At the Thangzona near the dzong will be held the Zhabdrung Dzenami Tendrel Tshechu. His Majesty The King will announce the name of The Gyalsey here.

On the significance of the naming ceremony, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Sonam Tobgye said: “Even for the layperson giving name to their children is of utmost importance. Names signify the personality that expresses attributes, wishes and aspirations.”

Lam Jangchub Tsundrue, who was the root lama of Jigme Namgyal, the father of the First King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, in a vision saw that if Jigme Namgyal named his successors Wangchuck, their reign would flourish and the citizens of the country would enjoy unprecedented peace, harmony and prosperity.

Jigme Namgyal also had the attributes of his name. “He didn’t know fear as his name indicated and lived on to become a very powerful leader,” Sonam Tobgye said.

Sacred masked dances and local folk dances related to the Zhabdrung will be performed by monks and people of the gewogs in the dzongkhag.

Zhabdrung Dzenami Tendrel Tshechu is a variety of masked dances and teachings depicting major deeds of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It consists of Zhabdrung’s arrival to Bhutan, construction of dzongs, unification of the country, teachings and offerings made to Zhabdrung by the people.  The tshechu, in all, will chronicle the life of Zhabdrung.

Inside the dzong, Zhabdrung Phensum Tshogpai Thongdrel will be unfurled for public display. The thongdrel, constructed during the time of the 69th Je Khenpo Gyeshe Gedun Rinchen, consists of thirteen reincarnations of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is one of the most scared thongdrels in the country.

Scared relics of Zhabdrung will be displayed in the Dzong. Tsula Lopen Samten Dorji said that body, speech and mind relics made by Zhabdrung will be brought from Chari monastery in Thimphu, Gasa, Jiligang in Wangdue, and Punakha.

Hotels have run out of rooms and houses adjacent to the dzong have taken in as many guests as they can accommodate.

More than fifty dancers from Talo gewog in Punakha practiced dances for more than 10 days for the event.

“The excitement has grown as the occasion drew closer,” Lhamo, a dancer, said. “Look around. There is no sign of exhaustion. Instead people are practising repeatedly to perfect their items.”

The monastic body has gathered the most sacred relics and treasures of Zhabdrung from across the country for the public viewing at Punakha Dzong.

They will be on display for the next three days.

More than ten thousand people are expected to attend the celebrations at the ground adjacent to the dzong with about 50 cultural items, including masked dances, skits, comedy and dances from school students, villagers, and the members of the film industry.

His Majesty The King will also grant a tokha to the gathering.

The Bhutan Broadcasting Service will broadcast the events live on television.

HRH The Gyalsey was born on February 5th.

 Tshering Palden and Tenzin Namgyel

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