Bhutan’s Mongar Monastery In Need Of Major Renovation

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Thus far, Nu 15 million has been allocated for the minor maintenance of the dzong and for emergency cases in the 12th Plan.

(Source: Tourism Council of Bhutan)

 

By Tshering Namgyal Kuensel

According to the dratshang (Central Monastic Body) clergy and dzongkhag (district) officials of Mongar, the Mongar dzong (monastery) which is more than 80 years old, requires major renovation.

Mongar’s Lam, Neten Ngawang Tenzin said that the wooden parts of the dzong’s utse (central tower) were rotting and the walls have cracked.

The shabkor (peripheral structures surrounding the courtyard), he added, also needed renovation and some design changes. On top of that, the utse’s three lhakhangs (temples) also required expansion.

Various issues raised

“It is difficult to accommodate crowds in the three lhakhangs—Lamai lhakhang, Goenkhang and Sangay Lhakhang, especially during the Kuche Bumde (annual ritual),” Lam Neten said, adding that fire safety measures is of utmost importance.

The congestion issue was addressed after the district administration and district court were constructed and separated from the dratshang.

However, the dzongkhag officials said that the congestion issue arose particularly during the tshechu (festival).

 

Animal masked dance seen at the Mongar Tshechu 

Source: Youtube/Julie Stephenson

 

Currently, Mongar’s tshechu is conducted in the courtyard of the new dzong, which is outside the kuenrey.

The issue has been reviewed in the dzongkhag tshogdu last October and forwarded to the government for budgetary support.

Lam also raised concerns about the safety of the relics as well as the absence of toilets inside the kuenrey (assembly hall), especially at night, as the monks have to go out of the main entrance to use the toilet attached to the new dzong.

“There’s an urgent need to close the main entrance with security measures after expanding the small courtyard and constructing toilets within the kuenrey,” he added.

Steps taken to address the issues faced

The dzongkhag officials said that the issue has been discussed in the two previous dzongkhag tshogdu sessions and submitted to the Department of Culture and Gross National Happiness Commission for funding. 

Location of Mongar in Bhutan

Source: Maps of the World

 

During the question-answer session in the May 2019 parliamentary session, MP Ugyen Wangdi asked the Home Minister if it was possible to renovate the Mongar dzong in the current Five Year Plan.

The MP also justified that it required immediate renovation, especially to ensure the safety of the monks and lamas who reside in the dzong.

In response to the MP’s request, Lyonpo Sherub Gyeltshen explained that Mongar dzong had already been renovated and the office extension completed in Bhutan’s 10th and 11th Five Year Plan.

The Lyonpo also mentioned that if there was any need for further renovation or maintenance, the issue should be raised by the dzongkhag tshogdu. 

Thus far, Nu 15 million has been allocated for the minor maintenance of the dzong and for emergency cases in the 12th Plan.

However, this figure is a far cry from what the dzongkhag officials have estimated – over Nu 300 million for the maintenance of Mongar dzong.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 

 


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