Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Parinirvana, the Throngdrel, and the King

We visited Tashichhodzong, the dzong in Thimphu, for the celebration of Lord Buddha's Parinirvana. This holiday, the holiest and most auspicious day in the Bhutanese Buddhist calendar, marks the point where Siddhartha Guatama, the Buddha, attained Nirvana through physical death (something slightly similar to the Christian Easter, for context). The dzong was full of people - mainly Bhutanese Buddhists but also foreign tourists - who came to participate and witness the holiday.


 Especially significant was the unfurling of the Throngdrel, a three-story-tall tapestry displayed only on important occasions. So revered is the tapestry that simply viewing it is believed to absolve a person's sins. A huge line of people processed around the tower from which it was hung - clockwise, as is the custom - to see the Throngdrel and gain karma.


Of course, my account of the experience would be incomplete without mentioning one other aspect of the celebration. Among the Buddhist practitioners attending the celebration was His Majesty, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. As monks played horns and drums, he and Her Majesty the Queen walked into the temple, and we stood maybe thirty feet away from them!


Coming from a Western, Christian background, I was fascinated by this Buddhist holiday. This is because on the surface, there is little in common between the two religions, but beneath all the differences, common threads such as community, celebration, and ceremony connect the two traditions to each other. For me, this was the most important part of the celebration of the Parinirvana.

Nick B.

1 comment:

  1. That is so awesome you were able to be there at such an important time. Were you able to view the scroll?

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