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Tashichhodzong - The Neten Chudrug Thongdroel
Ceremony of Thubwang Neten Chudrug Choga

The Neten Chudrug (16 Arahats) Thongdroel has to be unfurled in a sacred ceremony to celebrate Lord Buddha's Maha-parinirvana in Tashichhodzong. As Bhutan celebrated Buddha's Maha-parinirvana, His Majesty the King, Their Majesties the Queens, the council of ministers, and senior government officials take part the ceremony, dedicated to Buddha and his 16 followers, Neten Chudrug (16 Arahats), and offer prayers.

Every year in June:

The Neten Chudrug Thongdroel was unfurled
in Tashichhodzong
Led by His Holiness the Je Khenpo, lopon zhips and monks of the central monk body are conducting a special religious ceremony of Thubwang Neten Chudrug Choga, dedicated to Lord Buddha and his 16 followers, Arahats. Thousands of Thimphu residents also offered prayers and received blessings from the Neten Chudrug Thongdroel.
This special religious ceremony was initiated by His Holiness the Je Khenpo in 2001 with the creation of Neten Chudrug Thongdroel and the financial support from the Menjong Choethuen Tshogpa.

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Neten Chudrug (16 Arhats)

The 16 arhats (those who had extinguished all defilements) originated from India during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. It is believed that the Buddha entrusted his teachings to the 16 great arhats when he was about to pass away. The Buddha instructed them to remain in this world, dwell in different lands, and disseminate his teachings to benefit all sentient beings.

The Duechhen Ngazom (Buddha's Maha-parinirvana), is considered auspicious by all Buddhists because on the 15th day of Saga Dawa month (Bhutanese 4th month), Buddha was conceived and born, attained enlightenment, subdued demons and entered Nirvana (liberation).

According to a dratshang lhentshog's spokesman such sacred ceremony, dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, will also be introduced in Tashichhodzong. The Saga Dawa month is also called as Vaisak or Wesar in other Buddhist countries and is widely celebrated. It is beleived that one good deed or virtue done on this day will be rewarded with one hundred thousand merits.

Lord Buddha was born in 560 B.C. to Suddhodana, king of the Sakhyas and Maya who died seven days after her son's birth in Lumbini, near the city of Kapilavastu in Nepal. He died at the age of eighty in 480 B.C. in Kusinagara, India.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper

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