Bhutanese queue from dawn to dusk for Blessings of Long Life 'Tsepamey'
Tsepamey means long life (‘Tse’ means Life, ‘pamey’ means boundless and ‘wang’ means blessings. This generally means “Blessing of Long Life”. Tshepamey in Sanskrit is also the Buddha of Long Life.
In Bhutan, getting a blessing from a Buddhist master is a special and auspicious event.
There are many different kinds of blessings in Bhutan and one of the popular blessings is known as Tsepamey Wang originating from Trongsa. Trongsa district is the most central district in Bhutan. It is both the spiritual and secular heart of the Kingdom.
Tsepamey means long life (‘Tse’ means Life, ‘pamey’ means boundless and ‘wang’ means blessings. This generally means “Blessing of Long Life”. Tshepamey in Sanskrit is also the Buddha of Longevity.
In 1541, Lam Ngagi Wangchuk from the Drukpa Kagyupa religious school came to Trongsa from Ralung (Tibet) and built a small meditation room in the place called Yuling. He followed a light to built his meditation place where Trongsa Dzong now stands.
According to Lopen Jambay, while meditating Lam Ngagi Wangchuk fell ill several times and became worried that his illness might affect his meditation. To recover from the illness, overcome obstacles and to increase his life span, Lam Ngagi Wangchuk meditated and practiced the yoga of Buddha Tshepamey for one month.
One day when the lama was meditating, Buddha Tshepamey suddenly appeared in front of him and said “Don’t you worry, one day you will be cured of the sickness”. He ordered him to engage in his practice sincerely. Buddha Tshepamey assured him that his illness will be naturally cured and his life span will increase if he practices effectively. And ultimately attaining enlightenment. After practicing the Buddha of Long Life teachings for a month, Lam Ngagi Wanghuk was cured.
That same year, the people of Trongsa requested for Lam Ngagi Wangchuk to give the same blessings to all the people in and around the region. He was 49 years old when he started the Blessings of Long Life for the people of Trongsa.
Today, the blessings ceremony have a huge importance in many districts in Bhutan and is also great social occasion. Before the monks give the blessings to the public, the monks headed by Lam Neten will perform the rituals. Basic mantras related to the blessings will also be recited for a week starting from the 8th month of the Bhutanese calendar between 8th to 14th. Only on the 15th day of the same month, they offer the blessings to the public.
At present, the main relic during the blessing ceremony is the walking stick of Lam Ngagi Wangchuk. People across the country will travel to Trongsa to receive the blessings. Although the same blessings are also performed in Lhuntse and Bumthang, the blessing in Trongsa is considered more significant than the blessing performed in the two other districts because the Trongsa blessings were introduced by Lam Ngagi Wangchuk himself.
Bhutanese believe that getting Tsepamey Wang will increase the longevity of one's life, thus one needs to receive the blessings at least once a year. At places where His Holiness presides over the wang, hundreds and thousands of devotees can be seen waiting in queue at Trongsa Dzong from dawn to dusk.
Trongsa Dzong is considered the largest dzong (fortress) amongst all the dzongs in Bhutan. Its importance is reflected today in the fact that the future King of Bhutan must first be instituted as the Trongsa penlop (governor) before assuming the throne.