Buddhist Bhutan realises importance of Hinduism

Good news to read in Kuensel this week is the initiation of the Bhutanese government for construction of a Hindu temple in the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. After a long wait, this is small step to end suffocation of the Bhutanese Hindus.

It is an exciting news. At least the Bhutanese government has now realised the importance of letting all citizens observe the religions of their choice. Had it been such a move in later 80s, Bhutan would have remained peaceful throughout these days.

The ceremony comes after King Khesar travelled to Samchi to observe Dashain with Hindus – the first act of the Bhutanese monarch after the 1990 eviction spree. Though the constitution omitted the traditional versions of the former national assembly decisions that Bhutan will always survive with two religions, the initiation for construction of Hindu infrastructure and observing festivals show some signs of relief for southerners whose mouths were shut for more than two decades. For Bhutan to remain prosperous and peaceful, the two religions must flourish hand in hand.

The ground-breaking ceremony conducted by the Buddhist chief saw small number of Hindus attending, reflecting that Hindus still fear to participate in public function. The temple will occupy 2.35 acres of land and be constructed with the outlay of Nu 10 million.

What annoyed me was the Je Khempo being chief invitee to the function. This is a manifestation of Hindu being part of the Buddhism in Bhutan. It is not. Buddhism and Hinduism in Bhutan have fundamental difference with regard to beef. Bhutanese Buddhists eat cows while Hindus regard God’s form. Not me here but I would not ignore Hindus starting commenting that a cow eater presiding the ceremony in fact added impurity to the temple.

A Hindu organisation from United States Universal Society of Hinduism welcomed the move of the Bhutanese government stressing that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world; that dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment.

A political leader in exile also welcomed the initiation. Thinley Penjore said, ‘This is also a landmark on the part of the Bhutanese regime to have come out with the declaration of their concept that the Buddhism and the Hinduism “originated from the same place and have similar principles” which was overdue since time Hindu religion was in practice in Bhutan and that “These two religions are interdependent and inseparable like milk and water.”

Let the initiation not fall the prey of its history. Hundreds of Hindu temples being constructed during the reign of third monarch Jigme Dorji were demolished during the reign of fourth King Jigme Singye. Hindus were forced to convert into Buddhist. Buddhist lamas replaced Hindu pundits to perform rituals in south. And after a long wait, the cycle has repeated. Lets cautiously welcome this very moment and keep a watchful eye that Hindus are not silenced again in this country.