Thursday, May 10, 2018

Chorten Kora: The sacred symbol of Trashi Yangtse

Photo taken in front of Chorten Kora stupa

When you reach Trashi Yangtse, the first thing that greets your eyes is the spectacular view of Chorten Kora stupa which stands majestically on the bank of Kholongchhu River. Having withstood the test of time for more than two centuries, this great monument draws hundreds of pilgrims and tourists every year. It is believed to have been built in the 18th century by Lama Ngawang Lodrey as a replica of Boudhanath stupa of Nepal and even to this day, one can see in its architectural designs the glory of its rich past. Enlivened by the beautiful rows of sacred temples and prayer-flags interwoven into a tapestry of natural scenery in the surrounding, the stupa touches every soul that comes to circumambulate it.

The popular folklore says that it was built to subdue a troublesome demon of the time who constantly threatened the lives of ordinary human beings in and around the area. The legendary tale has it that a young princess of Tawang in modern-day Arunachal Pradesh in India was buried alive in the upper part of the stupa as part of the human sacrifice to appease the local deities. It is for this reason that every year during the annual Chorten Kora festival, people from Tawang come to pay respect to their princess who had sacrificed her life for the benefit of all sentient beings. The panoramic view of the monument from the main town itself leaves us with unique experience and brings us closer to enlightenment.

On the morning of 7th May 2018, I and my colleagues were at the College of Zorig Chusum at Trashi Yangtse to interact with the faculty-members and students of the College and to discuss how to strengthen YPeer Network, a youth-led group specialized in promoting sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) in the country. After the sensitization program at the college, we stopped at Chorten Kora to have a glimpse of the site. For me, it was a special opportunity after almost 26 years. The last time I was here was in 1992 when my schoolteachers took us to Rigsum Goenpa in Trashi Yangtse as part of the summer excursion. But at that time, I was too young to grasp the real spiritual meaning of the site and absorb the blessings. I can only remember walking around the sacred stupa, counting the number of mini-prayer wheels along the exterior wall. I think there were about 300 of them altogether. But this time, it was a different experience. I could feel the sacred blessings passing through my soul as I circumambulated the stupa, chanting prayers for the benefit of all sentient beings in the universe. I and my colleagues circumambulated the sacred stupa three times, took some photographs in and around the site and left for Trashigang. It was a beautiful experience because in the hassles and bustles of daily life, it is increasingly becoming difficult to strike a balance between materialistic and spiritual needs. Once in a while, it is important to set aside our usual priorities of life and take out a special time for such a spiritual experience. When we just think about the impermanence and transience of human life, such spiritual journeys brings home a new hope and motivation for us to be a good human being. As Lord Buddha has said, it is always good to walk the middle path between materialism and spirituality.

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