Annual Public Tshechus likely to be cancelled with only indoor prayers and key ceremonies allowed

Due to the pandemic in the country and due to lockdowns in the country, the Dratshang Lhentshog and the Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs (MoHCA) are discussing on the future of annual Tshechus in the country in this post lockdown era.

The paper has learnt that, for now, though they are likely to take a decision to cancel the Tshechus for the public, however, they are yet to come with a concrete decision.

Until now, they have been allowing Tshechus that are mandatory, but behind closed doors. Otherwise, those done for tourists and not mandatory were put at halt until further notice.

Considering today’s scenario in the country, Lam Yeshi, General Secretary of Zhung Dratshang said that they will not allow any local Tshechus in rural areas as to avoid crowding and to prevent local transmission.

“We have proposed to cancel the conduct of annual Tshechus in Dzongkhags and also at the gewog level. We also have proposed to allow only Dromchen and cancel the three days Tshechu. Dromchen will be conducted indoors,” he added.

They will allow only Nang-cham where no people will be allowed to come and witness. They also have decided to cancel all the mask dances (Cham) performed by RAPA.

He also said that, for now people will not be permitted to visit any religious sites or hike to any of the Tsho’s (lake). 

Until the lockdown, he said, “The annual Tshechu’s and local rituals which are mandatory to conduct and which are to please their deities were allowed as a closed door festival. In the past, we used to display Thongdrel and Nagtens during Dezang (auspicious day) but this year due to the pandemic we are not displaying any to the public to avoid public gatherings.”

Meanwhile, he said that though COVID-19 did not have much of an impact on Lhakhangs and monasteries in urban areas, but those in rural areas were impacted due to minimal visitors and no tourists on top of it.

Moreover, those people who used to sponsor monks and contributions to respective Dratshangs have now somehow stopped doing so due to poor businesses these days, he added.

He said, “For those monks who are registered with Dratshang Lhentshog, the government pays them the stipend of Nu 1,705 per head per month but those who are not registered has to be paid from our private funds. Here we can somehow manage to pay them but it has become difficult to pay those in the rural areas.”

Nevertheless, they have been paying them until now without any failure with support from government and private donors, the Lam added.

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