Dakpa princess entombed inside popular stupa in Trashi Yangtse
Every year, the stupa is a holy site for two major festivals - the Dakpa Kora held on the 15th of the first lunar month and the Drukpa Kora held at the end of the first lunar month. These festivals are attended by Dhakpa tribes from Arunachal Pradesh in India and Bhutanese from all over eastern Bhutan.
Chorten Kora was built in the 18th century by Lama Ngawang Kodro. The structure resembles the famous Boudhanath stupa in Nepal. The stunning sacred site took 12 years to construct.
Legend has it that upon the construction of the stupa, a pious Dakini princess from Arunachal Pradesh in India entombed herself inside the stupa to meditate on behalf of all the beings.
Locals believe that during the full moon, if the pilgrims are lucky he or she might encounter the Tawang princess. On a lighter note, the vicinity is also known for lovers and single individuals to find their partner. During the annual grand kora, locals believe that if a girl circumambulates around the Chorten Kora alone, the boy would come to tease her and court her.
The stupa is a holy site for two major festivals held every year - the Dakpa Kora (15th of the first lunar month) and the Drukpa Kora (at the end of the first lunar month). The Dhakpa tribes from Arunachal Pradesh attends the Dakpa Kora. Bhutanese from Eastern Bhutan attends the Drukpa Kora.
A similar stupa was also built in Tawang, smallest of the 16 administrative districts of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. The stupa known as ‘Gorsam Chorten’ took 13 years to complete, a year lesser than Chorten Kora. Today, these chortens are symbolic representations of friendship between people of Eastern Bhutan and Tawang.
Relationship between Tashi Yangtse pa and Dakpas
Trashiyangtse in Eastern Bhutan shares an international border with Arunachal Pradesh, India in the North East. Since time immemorial, locals from Tashi Yangtse and Arunachal Pradesh share a strong bond of brotherhood. In the north, including Bumdeling and Toetsho Gewogs, inhabitants speak Dzala, thus making communication easier. In the south, Tshangla (Sharchopkha), the lingua franca of eastern Bhutan, is spoken in Jamkhar, Khamdang, and Ramjar Gewogs. In Tomzhangtshen Gewog, residents speak Chocangacakha.
There is still a typical tradition of couch surfing in Eastern Bhutan. The people of the east maintain Host and Guest relationships making travels easier for the pilgrims. Pilgrimage to eastern Bhutan can take days to complete.
In the olden days, some Bhutanese have also migrated to places like Arunachal Pradesh and Bomdela.
Chorten Kora Movie
Chorten Kora site is so popular that a Bhutanese film was shot to tell its story. 'Chorten Kora Movie' was an eye-opener for many Bhutanese. The story shared about the more than 300 years old stupa and the reason for its sacramental importance. The movie was played by Legendary Gyem Dorji and Actress Kinley Pelden.
Due to the movie, many local pilgrims rushed to Tashi Yangtse to attend the grand circumambulation. The movie was also well received by the Dakpa people of Arunachal Pradesh. This year due to the pandemic, border areas remained close. The people from the Eastern border could not visit both the Kora Festivals.
Gomphu Kora, popularly known as Gom Kora is another popular sacred site in Eastern Bhutan. Gomphu means “Meditation Cave” and Kora means “Circuambulation”. The site is bustling with people once every year during spring when people all over eastern Bhutan descends on the narrow valley dressed in their finest to partake in the festivals. Most of the devotees visit the site to worship and to reaffirm their connection with the past.
The popular masked dance festival also attracts the Dakpa tribe from Arunachal Pradesh. Some say the Dakpas have been attending the festival for more than a millennium. The tradition began shortly after Guru Padmasambhava sanctified the place in the 8th century A.D. Guru Padmasambhave prophesized that devotees will flock to Gomphu Kora for eons to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
“Go around Gomphu Kora today for tomorrow may be too late”, exhorts a local song that entices devotees to visit the sacred place.
Gomphu Kora Tsechu