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Machen Zimpon
Manchen Zimpom (right), Lopon Namgay (centre)
with Pasakha lam, Gado (left)

His Holiness the Je Khenpo awarded a ceremonial scarf to Lopon Namgyal on December 5, appointing him as the new Machen Zimpon (chamberlain for Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal's embalmed body in Punakha Dzong), a rank equivalent to the four Lopons of the Central Monk Body. Lopon Namgyal joined the Thimphu-Punakha Dratshang as a monk at the age of 5 under the 61st Je Khenpo, Samten Gyamtsho, and studied philosophy and literature, practiced rituals and other ceremonies.

Lopon Namgyal received wang-lung-thri-sum (blessing, oral transmission and admonition) and directions for enlightenment from former Je Khenpos Jamyang Yeshey Singye, Thrizur Tenzin Dendup, Geshey Geduen Rinchen and the present Je Khenpo, Trulku Jigme Choeda.

Je Khenpo
Lopon Namgyal had served as umze of the central monk body, lam neten of Mongar rabdey and as lam of Gomtu monastery.
The outgoing Machen Zimpon, Lopon Ugyen, who held the post for 11 years, tsaid that after unifying the country and establishing civil and ecclesiastical administration systems in the country the Zhabdrung decided to meditate for 12 years in the Punakha dzong. He began his meditation at the age of 58 in 1651 and instructed that only Desi Tenzin Drukgyal and Dung Damchoe should visit him. He had passed away during meditation and his death was not announced for 25 years. People believed that he was still under meditation. His attendants continued to serve meals on time as if he was alive and the tradition lives on even today.

Today, only Machen Zimpon and Soepon are allowed to enter the Machen lhakhang. There are two Machens (embalmed bodies) of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and his son, Jampel Dorji, in Punakha dzong. The Machen Zimpon looks after the Machen of Zhabdrung, preserved in the Machen Lhakhang, while the Tse Zimpon takes care of the Machen of Jampel Dorji in the Utse of the dzong.

His Holiness also appointed Lopon Norbu Gyaltshen as the principal of Semtokha monastic school and Gado as the lam of Pasakha monastery in Phuentsholing.

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