SHERAB DORJI AND KARMA CHIMI
After a long and arduous wait of more than 20-months,residents living in the capital can now once again start circumambulating the National Memorial Chorten.
The Chorten was closed to the public when a foreigner tested positive for Covid-19 in March 5, last year.
After about 20-month’s closure the Memorial Chorten was finally open to the public on 21 October from 5 am in the morning till 8 pm in the evening.
Right after the announcement was made, locals thwarted thronging the stupa which is one of the most visited places in the capital city.
The National Memorial Chorten in Thimphu is considered very sacred as it was built in memory of Third Druk Gyalpo, the father of modern Bhutan, in 1972.
The consecration prayers were performed by His Holiness (HH) Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshey Dorje and other great masters like HH Dungsey Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and Lama Sonam Zangpo who supervised the project till its completion.
The majestic monument is considered spiritually blessed and thousands of tourists are attracted to it because of its unique architectural design and historical importance.
Tandin, 35, a monk and the care taker of the Memorial Chorten said he is finally relieved after hearing the news to reopen the chorten after such a long pause.
“Devotees and the public had been questioning us of the reopening status from a long time back. We are glad it is finally happening,” he said.
People who visit the Chorten are monitored by Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and have to follow and adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of Covid-19 protocol listed by the health ministry.
26-year-old Tshering Dema who resides in Thimphu said: “While going to the office in the morning I saw people circumambulating the Chorten which made me very happy to see the reopening of the Memorial Chorten. I will now come daily to the Chorten like before.”
Before the pandemic many people come to Memorial Chorten as early as 3 am in the morning and stayed there until the gates were closed at ten in the night.
“Before the pandemic, the Chorten was a place where many people especially elders gather together share their light moments. However, the pandemic disrupted everything,” a devotee said.
Leki Tshomo, 60 years old is very happy to see the reopening of the Chorten.
She said, “I live nearby the Chorten which is very convenient to circumambulate as it has always remained my first choice of destination to gain merits.”
Leki hopes and prays that such pandemic never occurs in the country in future.
A regular visitor, Sangchu, 75 years old from Punakha shares that unlike other countries, our country is blessed with less Covid-19 cases which we should be thankful to His Majesty The King, His Holiness the Je Khenpo and all the front line workers.
He further feel the decision to reopen the Chorten is good as locals can circumambulate and at the same time follow the protocols laid by the officials on duty.
The National Memorial Chorten is now open to the general public after directives from the Prime Minister’s Office. The RBP will ensure that the SoPs put in place are followed.