Bhutan’s capital and largest city Thimphu will have its first permanent Hindu temple in the near future. Ground-breaking (Sa-long) ceremony, held on October 10, 2011, at Kuenselphodrang, was conducted by His Holiness the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot); and was attended among others by national assembly speaker, opposition leader, cabinet ministers, national council chairperson, parliament members, business community and pundits, according to reports.
Construction work for this temple on 2.53-acre government land, which is on the way to the Buddha Dodenma statue, will begin soon and is expected to complete in two years. With Ngultrum 10 million already released by the government; work on basic infrastructure like water, electricity, road, ground-leveling and fencing will begin soon. Cabinet has approved its construction, reports suggest.
Thanking King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley for the Temple project, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that “it was a step in the right direction”. This Temple would fulfill the long felt need of area Hindu community to have a place of worship and gathering of their own.
Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, he added.
Rajan Zed pointed out that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this new Temple would help in this direction.
Besides a place of worship and mediation, this new temple, which will have touches of Bhutanese architecture, reportedly will also organize festivals, marriage ceremonies and other rituals and proposes to have a dharamsala for visitors from other parts of the country. There are estimated 10,000 Hindus in Thimphu.
“Establishment of this temple will enrich the spiritual heritage of our country,” the Je Khenpo reportedly said at the ground-breaking ceremony.
Dasho Meghraj Gurung, who is chairman of Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan, was quoted as saying that this Hindu temple would contribute “to deepen the devotees’ understanding of the essence of religious values and devotional practices”.
Communications minister Lyonpo Nandalal Rai was quoted as saying in the past: “… it is important that the Hindu Community gets a place of worship.”
Although a deeply Buddhist country with Vajrayana Buddhism as state religion, in principle there is freedom of religion in Bhutan.
Remote, landlocked, nestling in the Himalayas and a constitutional monarchy, Kingdom of Bhutan was rated by Business Week magazine as the happiest country in Asia. In “Land of the Thunder Dragon” Bhutan, inhabited since about 2000 BCE; national dress is compulsory—gho for men and kira for women, “Gross National Happiness” is promoted, protective giant penises are painted on many houses, and buying cigarettes is illegal.