Langdurbi Lhakhang

Description  

Langdurbi is one of the remotest villages in Bardho gewog under Zhemgang district. It is located two-and-a-half-hour drive from Zhemgang town, and from Randibi it takes, approximately, 7 to 8 hours walk to reach Langdurbi.

The literal meaning of Langdurbi in Kheng language is: Lang means content, Dur means gather or crowded village, and Bi means plain. Thus, the name of the village is said to be the plain land of the contented village. The Langdurbi lhakhang is situated above the village and was constructed by the ancestors of the Lhambipa, a household name.

The village ancestors named the village a long time ago with a special meaning to it. At one point in time, Langdurbi village had a big lake nearby and over time the lake either dried up or disappeared. But the people of Langdurbi believe that the lake in Kheng Buli is the one that had migrated from Langdurbi. And even to this day the belief is very strong in the people that the lake migrated to Kheng Buli.

History

Pema Tshewang, a ninety-seven-year-old man, who is the present caretaker of the temple, has served as a caretaker for more than seventy-one years. He said the temple belongs to the Lhambi family and because of that the community named the lhakhang as Lhambi lhakhang (temple of Lhambi).

According to the caretaker, the forefathers of Lhambipa family migrated from Wangsisina under Thimphu district to Langdurbi village. And they initiated the construction of the temple. The informant narrated a story about how this family came to be settled in Langdurbi, which is very far away from Wangsisina in south Thimphu during those days.

As per the oral source, there was a conflict between the Trongsa Penlop and the people of Pagsamkha in Phuntsholing.  The Trongsa Penlop ordered his best warrior, the son of Buleck Tserchung to lead the war against Pagsamkha. The son of Buleck Tserchung and his troops came out victorious in the war. Unfortunately, the son was ambushed by some of his troops and killed him enroute to Trongsa from Pagsamkha. When the rest of the warriors reached Trongsa, Buleck Tserchung did not find his son amongst the troops. So he complained about his missing son to the authority. Only later, he came to know that his son was actually ambushed by his friends.

Therefore, the Trongsa penlop, in order to console the family, issued a decree that exempted Buleck Tsherchug and his family from paying all taxes. They were also given permission to settle or inhabit wherever they wanted to. Accordingly, Buleck Tserchung and his family travelled toward eastern Bhutan and lived in Mongar for a while; however, he could not find peace and tranquility there. Later, he moved from Mongar via Lingmithang and Kheng Silambi, and finally settled in Langdurbi. Some years later after the resettlement, Buleck Tserchung and his family built Langdurbi temple; unfortunately, the date of the construction is not recorded anywhere.

The oral source said that there was a fire accident in 1955 that destroyed the decree issued by the Trongsa Penlop and the rest of his valuable belongings. Thus, the authenticity of Buleck Tserchung’s migration and resettlement story is questionable because of the lack of a written record or the actual decree to confirm the story. So, in the absence of a tangible record, it could be surmised that the temple was probably built during the 19th century.

Initially, the temple was a one-storey house; however, after the fire in 1955, the present caretaker, who is believed to be Buleck Tserchung’s descendent, initiated the work and renovated the temple into a two-storey building. During the renovation, he hired carpenter named Nidupla from Nimshong village in Nangkhor gewog under Zhemgang district and his family carried out the renovation work. The temple remained a private property till 2002, and later, it was handed over to the government and became a community temple. Nevertheless, the temple is still taken care of by Buleck Tsherchung’s descendent. After the temple became a community’s property, all social and cultural activities are conducted in the temple.

Architecture and Artwork

The two-storey temple is built in the traditional Bhutanese architecture with extensive use of mud, stone, and wood. The roof of the temple is covered by corrugated iron sheet, funded by the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB). The ground floor of the temple has one big prayer wheel, where elderly people spend their day pulling the prayer wheel, doing prayer recitation and prostration.

Langdurbi temple is considered sacred because it has a half-foot golden statue of Guru Rinpoche brought by Buleck Tserchung. After that his great-grandson, Drungpa Rinchenla (mid-19th century), who worked under Ashi Pema Choki (wife of Jigme Namgyel) in Wangdu Choling Palace, brought the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni from Wangtse Lhakhang in Ura, Bumthang district.

The statue of Chugchizhey (Avalokiteshvara) was brought from Jampa lhakhang and the statue of Guru Rinpoche was brought from Kurje lhakhang in Bumthang. All the three statues measure one meter in height. The statues of Chagtong Chentong (Avalokiteshvara, the god of compassion with one thousand hand and eyes), Jampelyang (Manjushri-the deity of Wisdom), DroelJang (the Green Tara), and Chana Dorji (Vajrapani) were donated by Karma Wangchuk, a monk who is the disciple of the 4th Dodrupchen Thubten Trinle Pal Zangpo Rinpoche, one of the great tantric masters settled in Sikkim, India.

The wall paintings of the temple are magnificent and colorful. The wall paintings consist of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and the lineage of Drukpa Kagyu.

Social and Cultural Functions

Currently, Langdurbi temple hosts the following events every year:

  • Firstly, the recitation of the Kanjur (Buddhist Canon) is conducted annually from the 1stday of the 1st month as per the Bhutanese lunar calendar for 15 days. To organize the event successfully, the community collects a nominal amount to purchase necessary items.
  • On the 4th month, the community conducts a local festival called Kharpo/Kharphu. It starts from the 8th day of the 4th month and ends on the 17th day of the same month, exactly 10 days.
  • From the 8th till the 13th, the kharpo/karphu is only conducted every evening for 3 to 4 hours in the Lhachen’s house (Bon practitioner). For the remaining four days, people gather in the courtyard of the temple and celebrate Kharpo/Karphu. People of all ages gather to receive blessings from Lhachen Wangchuk (often associated with the Hindu deity Shiva) and at the same time pray for peace and prosperity in the community.
  • The last social function called Chodpa/Tshechu is conducted from the 13th till the 17th day of the 10th month as per the Bhutanese lunar calendar. The five-day celebration is the most important event in the community. During the Chodpa, people gather in the courtyard of the temple to watch different mask dances. The mask dances are performed by the gomchens (lay-practitioners) from the nearby villages.
  • Beside these events, the Yar-Ngo and Mar-Ngo rituals are conducted every month on the 10th and the 30th day of every month.

Informant

Pema Tshewang, caretaker

Reference

Lham Dorji. (2005). “The Historical Anecdotes of Kheng Nobilities.” Journal of Bhutan Studies Volume 13.

Researcher

Sangay Thinley, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2018.

 

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