…Bhutan’s spiritual extravaganza commences on May 29

Thousands of devotees from across the country are expected to attend the three and a half months Rinchen Terzoed Wangchhen, an event featuring oral transmission, empowerment, and instructions of the treasury of precious termas, at Ugyen Pema Woeling Zangdo Pelri in Bongdey, Paro.

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche will confer the empowerment of Rinchen Terzoed Wang from May 29 to September 13.

Khentrul Karma Jigme, the main organiser of the event, said  he expects more than 10,000 trulkus, lamas, khenpos, monks, nuns, lay monks, and devotees to receive the kawang (transmission of spiritual treasure teachings). “A large Wangkhang or empowerment hall is being constructed in front of the Zangdo Pelri complex to accommodate around 12,000 devotees,” he said.

Trulkus, khenpos, and monks of Zangdo Pelri will conduct a four-day tshogkhor and prayers from May 23 to 26 for the successful completion of empowerment and teachings without any obstacles over three and a half months.

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

The initiation will begin on May 29 with the Mandala opening of Vajrasattva of Mindroling tradition and, in line with the ground ritual, initiate the main part of Vajrasattva Sadhana ceremony of Rinchen Terzoed.

The Rinchen Terzoed

According to the Buddhism Forum, Rinchen Terzoed, often abbreviated as Terzö or Rinchen Terzoed Chhenmo, denotes a 63-volume compilation of revealed texts, or terma, meticulously assembled in the 19th century by the Rimed masters Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. This significant collection encompasses crucial terma concealed by Guru Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Vimalamitra, and their primary disciples during the 8th and 9th centuries.

The Rinchen Terzoed holds immense sacredness and serves as a vital transmission in the Nyingma tradition. The Buddhism Forum stated that Masters like Guru Rinpoche, Vimalamitra, and Vairotsana imparted teachings that were concealed for the benefit of future generations, later unearthed by eminent masters spanning the 11th to 19th centuries in the Nyingma tradition.

The collection of terma (hidden treasures) teachings revealed by 108 tertöns was compiled by Khenkong Chogsum, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Kongtrul Yonten Jamtsho, and Chogyur Dechen Lingpa in the 1850s. “This is the first time Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche is empowering Rinchen Terzoed in Bhutan,” Khentrul Karma Jigme said.

Rabjam Rinpoche is the seventh in the line of the Rabjam succession and is the grandson and spiritual heir of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Since his grandfather’s passing in 1991, Rabjam Rinpoche has taken the responsibility of transmitting Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s teachings and is bringing his vision for the preservation of Buddhist teaching and culture to fruition.


Interest of Devotees

Meanwhile, to ensure hygiene at the ceremony, the organisers have constructed 64 units of pit toilets for male and another 56 toilets for female devotees on one-acre private land.

More than 60 water taps with wash basins were also installed at both sides of the Wangkhang (empowerment hall). Khentrul emphasised the importance of maintaining sanitation and hygiene, especially during peak monsoon, with 20 imported laborers assigned to clean and monitor toilets and other sanitation services throughout the Wangchhen event.

Housing Woes

The sacred event has caused a housing shortage in and around Bongdey, on the periphery of Tsongdue town.

Some devotees from as far as Mongar and Trashigang have booked rooms in private homes since January after hearing about the Rinchen Terzoed in Bongdey. Residents and  house owners have taken advantage of the religious event and are charging high rent, according to organisers.

Some landowners have constructed temporary wooden houses near the Wangkhang and are renting them out to be used as shops. One resident said that one small room is rented out for Nu 20,000 a month. Some landowners also leased out their open space for Nu 6,000 each per month to pitch tents on a decimal of land.

One building owner claimed that his three-bedroom house with two toilets, one sitting room, and one choesham (altar) was rented out to a trulku for Nu 40,000 per month. “It will be difficult to find a space to rent,” he said.

A couple from Thimphu went to Paro looking for a house to rent but had to return home without any success. “We were told that all houses were booked,” they said.


Contributed by

Rinzin Wangchuk