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Peling abode restored, empowered

October 13, 2008

Kuensel Online
October 11, 2008

His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and thousands of devotees
celebrated the consecration of the restored Gangteng Goenpa, an
important centre of the Peling tradition and a landmark in Bhutan's
spiritual history.

The ceremony was conducted on October 10 by the incarnations of Pema
Lingpa and guest trulkus, invoking the blessings and essence of the
wisdom of Lama Norbu Gyamtsho, a sacred Peling scripture discovered
by Terton Pema Lingpa in south Tibet, and the Gurdag, which is
dedicated to the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche. The ceremonies were
performed to empower the lhakhang and its sacred images as well as a
new Sampa Lhuendrup Thongdroel, that was first unfurled in September.
The religious ceremonies were performed in four directions by monks,
nuns and lay monks from 13 religious institutions that follow the
Peling tradition.

The prime minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley, said that the government
was making every effort to preserve the diversity of the Mahayana
traditions in Bhutan. "The Peling tradition is very important for
Bhutan and the consecration symbolised the resurgence and
sustainability of this tradition," he said. "At one stage there was
the feeling that the Peling tradition was on the decline but now,
with the three trulkus all active in Bhutan, there is a resurgence."

The prime minister said that Bhutan's Kings were descendants of Pema
Lingpa, so the restoration of the lhakhang and the resurgence of the
Peling Tradition also symbolised the aura of Bhutan's Monarchy.

The restoration of Gangteng Goenpa also expresses Bhutan's
conservation ethics, reversing a trend where conservation was
becoming reconstruction and traditional mud, wood, and stone were
being replaced by cement and acrylic. In one of the more impressive
restoration efforts in recent years, the Gangteng Trulku, with the
support of the government, spared no effort and cost to preserve
395-year lhakhang in its original form.

The consecration was also attended by Their Majesties the Queens and
His Royal Highness Dasho Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, the prime minister
and cabinet ministers, and devotees from Bhutan and around the world.
Of the Gangteng Trulkus' 1,000 or so international students and
followers more than 100 were camped in the Gangteng valley for the
ceremony. They included a group from Khunnu in Himachal Pradesh,
India, where Pema Lingpa had spread his teachings.

Mr. Michael McClelland, who was involved with the restoration from
the start, described this visit as a "terrific experience to see the
restoration and the consecration". He said he was struck by the sheer
beauty of the lhakhang and the organisation of the consecration
ceremony. "It's a once in a life time experience," he told Kuensel.

The devotees included interpreters, scholars, tertiary students of
Buddhism, and full time practitioners. "For practitioners it's so
important to see the sacred relics and inner treasures," said a
follower from France. "This time we also got to see the fourth King
himself. I don't want to go back."

A resident of Gangteng village said that the people were extremely
worried when the monastery was dismantled eight years ago. "Today, we
are happy to re-live the moment in 1613 when our lhakhang was built,"
she said. "It was special because of the presence of His Majesty the
fourth Druk Gyalpo."

"This is what we leave behind for future generations," said a 65-year
old farmer from Phobjikha. "This is what you're leaving for the
world," said a devotee from Switzerland.

BY Kinley Dorji & Rinzin Wangchuk
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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