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An outpouring in gold
The gold butter lamp (kom)
The gold butter lamp (kom)
On May 7 2006, coinciding with Zhabdrung Kuchoe, Aum Tshering from Shengana, Punakha, wanted to light a butter lamp with fresh butter churned at her home.

She came to Semtokha dzong in Thimphu and asked for a butter lamp (karme kom) made of gold to make her offering on the sacred day.

Except for a few karme koms made of silver there was not a single karme kom made of gold in the oldest dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1627.

Without a second thought Aum Tshering donated her gold ring weighing about six grammes and requested the nyip (store master) of the dzong to get more donations and make a gold karme kom.

Six months later, On November 20, 2006, Aum Tshering's wish was fulfilled when a gold karme kom made from 54.5 tolas (about 600 grammes) was handed over to the dzong.

"I was touched by the generosity of the woman," recalls the nyip, Lopon Kuenzang. "I wanted to fulfill her request and started looking for donors right away."

Semtokha Monastery
People near and far heard about the initiative and started contributing. "In less than six months we collected enough to make the karme kom," Lopon Kuenzang said. Another set of offering cups (Serkem Phuechu) made from 15.6 tolas (171 grammes) was also made. Lopon Kuenzang said that after he collected about 88 grammes in the first two months he was worried that there may not be enough contributions. "But all of a sudden people came forward with gold chains, rings, earrings and cash," he said. "I was delighted."

A retired dzongda donated 13.5 tolas of gold, the highest among the donors, according to the Lopon. "People came to contribute even after the karme kom was offered to the dzong," he said.

A village elder from Toebtsi contributed Nu.5,000 to be paid as charges for making the kom.

The gold karme koms and the Serkem Phuechu were handed over to the dzong on November 20, when the Sertog (golden pinnacle) of the Semtokha dzong was installed and consecrated.

Aum Tshering could not attend the ceremony.

Meanwhile, dzong renovation project officials said that about 60 percent of the renovation works were completed and the remaining would be completed by the end of December 2007.

This article was contributed by Ugyen Penjore, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006
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