His Majesty The King offered prayers before a special statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel at the Simtokha Dzong yesterday.
The six-foot statue, which is at least 250 years old, has been housed in the Asiatic Society building in Kolkata for over a century. The society received the statue from a Captain Hadyat Ally, of the British Army, who is believed to have come into possession of the statue following the Duar War fought between Bhutan and the British in 1864-1865.
For the Bhutanese, the statue is a priceless relic of great spiritual significance, as are all relics attached to the Zhabdrung, who is revered as the great unifier of Bhutan and the founder of the Bhutanese nation state and polity.
This year is especially significant as it marks the 400th anniversary of Zhabdrung’s arrival to Bhutan. The commemoration of the event has included the display of precious relics of Zhabdrung, and thousands of people across the country have taken the opportunity to receive blessings from these relics, which are otherwise housed in various temples across the country.
This statue of Zhabdrung has been loaned to Bhutan by the Government of India in light of the great importance that the Bhutanese people attach to it. The Zhabdrung Ku was received in a ceremony at the Paro airport and was brought to the Simtokha Dzong, which is the first dzong that Zhabdrung built in Bhutan.
The statue will be displayed for public veneration in January.