The 7th Moenlam Chenmo was held in Punakha, Bhutan

- through Henry Oudin

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Sangay Dorji presiding over the 7th Moenlam Chenmo. Image from BBS Facebook

Bhutan's 7th Moenlam Chenmo, or "great prayer festival", began on January 20 in the city (dzongkhag) of Punakha, which coincides with the 10th day of the 12th lunar month of the traditional Bhutanese calendar. It will be held for six days at Thangzona Choekhang from the 20th to the 25th.

The news was announced on Facebook and other social media platforms, with platforms like the Punakha Dzongkhag administration and the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) announcing that thousands of devotees associated with monastic authorities, temples and centers of Punakha, estimated at around 7, converged on the city of the peaceful Himalayan kingdom. Around 000 monks and nuns are present and participating in the events organized since the 700th, including the recitation of the King of Aspiration prayer, which has been recited over the past four days.

Thangzona Choekhang. From Facebook

Moenlam Chenmo is the representative event of the Buddhist constitutional monarchy which brings together “the sangha and the State”. It is performed for the well-being of sentient beings, as well as to dedicate merits and prayers for world peace. It is not only spiritually significant, but it channels the energy of the Bhutanese people to usher in national unity and harmony and encourage world peace. During the tenure of His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo, Tulku Jigme Chhoeda, the ceremony was organized across the country in 20 districts, marking a historic national development that was celebrated as one of its most important reforms.

Sangay Dorji, the Laytshog Lopen of the Central Monastic Body, presides over this annual event. BBS shared on its Facebook page: “. . . The Monlam Chenmo in Punakha began with His Eminence Rinpoche Sangay Dorji presiding over the opening ceremony. Monlam Chenmo is a major prayer for world peace that takes place every year in Punakha and 20 other districts of Bhutan.

From Facebook
The prayers and songs of the faithful continue until late at night. From Facebook

As Rebecca Wong, spiritual blogger and student of Sangay Dorji, reported about her teacher: “. . . he is the most senior master among the five high officials (lopon) of the central monastic body of Bhutan, the Zhung Dratshang. A monk since the age of 11, he is in charge of all sangha-related activities, including administration and development. He is chairman of the Dratshang Koedtshog, the executive committee of Zhung Dratshang. The fact that the previous ceremony last year was presided over by Je Khenpo,

Dara Yangchen, daughter of local Bhutanese teacher Lama Tshewang Dorji and member of a family of Buddhist teachers and ritual specialists, told Buddhadoor Global: “This Moenlam Chenmo ceremony plays a very important role in our Bhutanese culture . The intention in performing it is to help all of us eliminate all negative energies and bless our people with virtue and merit by coming together. During this great ritual, we recite and dedicate the prayer of the King of Aspirations for the well-being of all beings and, therefore, bring joy and peace to loved ones and strangers alike.

Sangay Dorji presiding over the 7th Moenlam Chenmo. Image from BBS Facebook

Just as significantly, 7 Moenlam Chenmo will be followed by a five-day stay Druk-Nang-Duechhey Rimdro starting on Friday. This ritual is performed once every 12 years during the Year of the Dragon to remove national obstacles and bring peace and harmony to Bhutan. While 2024 marks the start of the Year of the Dragon in the Asian lunar calendar, it also marks the Year of the Dragon in Bhutan.

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Administration of Punakha Dzongkhag Facebook
Announcement by Laytshog Lopen (Bhutan Broadcasting Service Facebook)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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