Preserving Bhutan’s Cultural Heritage

In the past two years, 2008 chortens were renovated with the help of local government functionaries according to the State of the Nation Report.

Six new chortens were also built and the Prime Minister in the report thanked His Majesty the King for the noble support given to the retired armed force personnel in constructing new chortens.

The construction of Wangduephodrang Dzong, Sarpang Dzong and Pemagatshel Dzong are progressing well and will be completed by next year. Major renovation of Gasa Dzong, Trongsa Dzong and Trashigang Dzong will also be completed by next year.

The country has 1997 lhakhangs including the world’s first lhakhangs such as Paro Kichu and Bumthang Kurje.

To overcome the problem of having Koenyoers (caretakers) His Majesty the King has commanded that Koenyoers be paid a monthly stipend of Nu 3,000 from July. This Kidu the report says will go a long way in ensuring that our lhakhangs are well looked after and it will lead to the preservation of our culture, which are represented by these religious structures and on behalf of the people.

On June 24 2012, Wangduephodrang Dzong was gutted by fire, which was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1639. His Majesty issued a Royal Decree commanding that the glory of the Dzong should be restored and reconstruction commenced on January 28, 2014.

On June 10, 2014, His Majesty installed the Sachu Bumter at the site of the Dzong, where the Utse and the Kuenrey of the Dzong will be built and His Majesty the King granted Nu 30 million, which was offered with prayers by numerous people in Bhutan and abroad to the office of the Gyalpoi Zimpoen.

Following a command from His Majesty the King, two Mandirs are also being built in Thimphu and Gelephu and its pundits will also receive a small allowance.

Last year the Royal Academy of Performance Arts (RAPA) a premier institution to promote the culture, was upgraded to a college and up-grading its curriculum has been completed. The government is exploring land to build the college so that construction can begin as soon as the 12th FYP starts.

The government has extended full support to the local film industry and has been allocating Nu.1 m annually to the Bhutan Film Association.  In addition, the DoC has started providing financial support of Nu 50,000 each to those coming up with program that promotes culture.

The government has also instituted the Art and Culture Endowment Fund to provide support in the fields, but it is yet to be operationalized. A film studio is being built as well as five cinema halls across the country.

From next month the institute of Zorig Chusum in Trashiyangtse will be upgraded to a college. In addition, the Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Craft (APIC) will start the construction of the craft market in Changzamtog.

To promote Dzongkha, students must pass in Dzongkha to move to the next grade starting this year. Several initiatives have also been implemented under the aegis of the Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC). DDC has edited 50% of dictionary entries for the official Dzongkha dictionary out of 1000 word entries, English Dzongkha bi-lingual economics terminology book has been drafted and research work carried out and draft of Dzongkha-Brokpake phrase book has been completed.

In addition the research, data collection work and editing work for Ole-Khagammer has been done. They have also edited 50% of the Bumthangkha-English lexicon and collected 750 Tsanglakha words, translated in English and transcribed in Roman Dzongkha for Tshangla-English lexicon.

Moreover, 250 words have been developed according to the dictionary features for Dzongkha-English Dictionary, 13,000 Dzongkha word Part of Speech (PoS) tagged and they have collected and entered 150 new words for Dzongkha-English dictionary, which were not included before as the root word.

In terms of development in technology, a guideline for installing Dzongkha on Android phones (version 6.0.x and later) has been updated and three educational Dzongkha mobile apps have been developed in collaboration with G2C, which can be freely downloaded.

A workshop on installation and configuration of Dzongkha Unicode was conducted for school IT Teachers in seven dzongkhags out of a 1000 targeted computers, 300 entries have been drafted in Dzongkha for creating and publishing English-Dzongkha computer terminology book while the 700 entries will be completed by the end of this financial year.

A very significant achievement is the return of the statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel from India in December last year. The six-foot statue, which is at least 250 years old, has been housed in the Asiatic Society building in Kolkata for over century.

Meanwhile, the report also states that, under His Holiness’s guidance and support, all 20 Dzongkhags have Monelam Chenmo Trust Fund whereby 19 Dzongkhags have Monelam Chenmo Fund.

“All together, the 19 dzongkhag funds amount to Nu.238 million with Nu  50 million from His Holiness the Je Khenpo”, says the report.

About Damchoe Pem

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