Festival: Established by the 68th Je Khenpo Tenzin Dendup and His Majesty The Fourth King in 1988, the Goempai Wangchen of Wangduephodrang Dzong is believed to be one of the most sacred festivals in Buddhism.

It is also regarded as the Wangdue dromchoe. But unlike the Punakha and Thimphu dromchoes it is not as known outside the local elderly population whom understand the sacredness and essence of the festival.

Wangdue dratshang’s Lam Neten, Namgay Wangchuk, said the festival includes the 15-day Goempai Wangchen and a daylong seldra. It also has various mask dances like Marcham, Zhangag-ngacham, Layngyen-cham and Bocham. During the Wangchen for 11 nights, the religious performances are carried out inside the dzong.

The Lam Neten said the former Je Khenpo along with His Majesty The Fourth King instituted it in the Wangdue dratshang around 28 years ago. It is believed that the sacred Goempai Wangchen was initially started in Punakha Dzong by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1642, more than 374 years ago, said the Lam Neten.

According to Buddhist philosophy, the Lam Neten said the festival was started in India by Buddhist master Gompo Ludrup. It then spread to Tibet with the help of three Tibetan Lotsawas (Buddhist masters) Galong-Pai, Zhalnu Tsheltrum and Wangchuk. The masters then passed it onto Kuenkhen Pema Karpo.

The Lam Neten said it is believed that even receiving the blessing of this Wangchen would help relieve one from the suffering of this samsara. It is one of the most sacred religious performances in Buddhism, he added.

The elaborate Goempai Wangchen will be followed by the three-day Wangdue tsechu.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue