Kuenphen Plans To Whitewash And Preserve Thousands Of Chortens In Bhutan

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The scouts of Kuenphen have completed the white-washing of 362 chortens so far.

(Source: Facebook/Kuenphen (Let's Help))

 

By Tshering Business Bhutan

Ever since the Kuenphen (Let’s Help) team started the chorten white-washing project on 11 November 2016, they have completed the white-washing of 470 chortens.

Done on a voluntary basis under three different phases, the team have white-washed chortens in Thimphu, Chhukha, Paro, Trongsa, Zhemgang and Bumthang. 

Kuenphen (Let’s Help) is a youth group initially formed in 2016 by a group of scouts and community based scouts.

What is a chorten?

A chorten (stupa) is a religious monument representing Buddha's enlightened mind. It was the first Buddhist art form, symbolic of Buddha rather than  representative of him in human form.

 

Photo: Facebook/Kuenphen (Let's Help)

 

It is believed that visiting and circumambulating round a stupa will bring the believer merits. Buddhists in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan often make pilgrimages to the sites of great stupas.

Aims of embarking on the Chorten White-Washing Project

The 108 Chortens White-Washing Project is one of the major projects of Kuenphen (Let’s Help). The Project Coordinator, Tob Gyel said that the project was initially started to commemorate the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth King Druk Gyalpo.

However, upon realising that most of the chortens, which hold Bhutan’s culture, history and identity, were left unattended, the scouts decided to embark on a white-washing project.

 

Photo: Facebook/Kuenphen (Let's Help)

 

Meanwhile, this project is sustained by donations and volunteerism from interested individuals. Thus far, Nu 150,000 has been incurred to white-wash 108 chortens. 

 

Photo: Facebook/Kuenphen (Let's Help)

 

Its objective is to keep Bhutanese youth fruitfully engaged during their breaks. Moreover, it also helps to preserve Bhutan’s culture and educate people about the importance of chortens.

Currently, the project is in its 4th phase in Pemagatshel and 22 chortens have been whitewashed in three days, with another 86 chortens remaining to be whitewashed. 

Plans to launch the Chorten White-Washing Project all across Bhutan

The project’s coordinator, Tob Gyel said that they are planning to launch this project nationwide soon as there are thousands of other chortens which need to be whitewashed and preserved. 

 

Photo: Facebook/Kuenphen (Let's Help)

 

“Therefore, we have decided to reach each and every chorten in our country,” he said. 

He added that they were also able to engage the young people meaningfully during their vacation through the project. 

“We are also able to promote and preserve our most valuable cultural heritage while at the same time, we can inculcate the sense of belonging to one’s community,” he said. 

The Project Coordinator, Tob Gyel said that their project usually involves the Dzongdas, gups, youth and the local communities.

As a recognition and appreciation of their hard work, the Kuenphen (Let’s Help) has been given the Youth Community Award, organised by the Youth Caring Community during the International Youth Day in 2018. 

 

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

 


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