Water and toilets an issue

Nima Wangdi

More than 15,000 monks and devotees are attending the monthlong Kuenkhyen Kabum Jaklung, (Oral Transmission) at Kuensel Phodrang, Thimphu,  which started on October 9 presided by  His Holiness the 70th Jekhenpo, Trulku Jigme Choedra.

Khenpo Thoepa Gyamtsho from Dorden Tashithang Buddhist University said that His Holiness would be reciting three volumes of Gyalwang Je Kunga Paljor’s Kabum and then 24 volumes of Kuenkhyen Pema Karpo’s kabum.

Dorden Tashithang Buddhist University requested the sacred and comprehensive reading initiation of the Kuenkhyen Kabum. The Central Monastic Body is organising the event.

This is the seventh time that His Holiness is presiding over the oral transmission. However,  it is for the first time that both Gyalwang Je Kunga Paljor and Kuenkhyen Pema Karpo’s Kabum are being recited together. Of all the oral transmissions that His Holiness has given until today, most of them were done before he became the Je Khenpo, according to Khenpo Thoepa Gyamtsho.

The last Kuenkhyen Kabum Jaklung His Holiness presided over was in 2005 at Dechenphodrang monastery in Thimphu.

Kuenkhyen Pema Karpo was the fourth Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He was the most famous and learned of all the Gyalwang Drukpas.

Pema Karpo authored 24 volumes of writing on philosophy, logic, literature, history, and astrology, which have since formed a widely studied corpus of work. He is also famous for his writings on Mahamudra.

Gyalwang Je Kunga Paljor was the second Gyalwang Drukpa and the fourteenth throne holder of Ralung Monastery.


Logistic issues

Meanwhile, the sheer number of devotees have overwhelmed organizers with many that came from across the country finding a place to pitch tents difficult. A big problem is water and toilets making sanitation and hygiene a big concern.

Although additional toilets were built and water is being ferried in tankers to supply, the devotees there has a shortage of both. Many are seen to relieve in the open ground and the forest around Kuensel Phodrang.

Devotees camp near Kuensel Phodrang

However, almost all the tents are connected with electricity.

Khenpo Thoepa Gyamtsho said that there is a toilet and water shortage because all devotees are rushing at the same time during the breaks.

A monk said that the toilets remained closed when there was not enough water to flush. “People are then forced to go into the forest.” He also said that they have to walk far from their tents for water to wash their face in the morning.

Another devotee said that people urinate and defecate around the tents at night making the place dirty. “Walking around in the dark is always a risk of stamping on stools along the path.”

The founder of Bhutan Toilet Org, Passang Tshering, known as Chaplop Passu said that the people camping at Buddha point borrowed all his toilets but he was not asked for building toilets for the event saying that they have enough.

He said people don’t give much importance to toilets whatever the events they organised. “People don’t want to spend on toilets.”

“Even during the events in the past, we had to build temporary toilets with CGI sheets,” he said his office is ready to help if asked.

The devotees are served tea and snacks and all three meals. Some devotees are also sponsoring meals, snacks, and tea.

The session starts at 7am and ends at 5pm.