Buddhism is the state religion in Bhutan and is followed by 70% of the population . My knowledge of this ancient religion is very limited.After spending a short time here I feel that Buddhism is the most distinct feature of this kingdom .One week is too short a period to get an insight but each day was a learning experience.
I wanted to start by visiting a buddhist temple and I did not have to look far.
More than 2000 Lhakhangs or temples are scattered around the 20 districts in Bhutan.I had my first glimpse of one in Phuentsholing.
Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang is near the immigration office and it has an impressive structutre .It was 6 30 in the morning and people were coming in large numbers for their morning prayers.
The main deities are Buddha,Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and Zhabdrung Rinpoche who unified Bhutan.The walls are decorated with murals and frescos depicting the life of Buddha. The altar was beautifully adorned with lamps,prayer bowls,flowers and incense sticks..It is believed that by gazing at Buddha,lighting lamps,offering flowers,burning incense , prostrating before the deities etc ,the functions of the five sense organs are completely immersed in Buddhist practises.As in most Buddhist temples,there is a large prayer wheel and a huge fig tree in the courtyard.Remember to spin the prayer wheel in a clockwise direction.Turning the prayer wheel is supposed to have the same benefits as reciting the mantras inside.
Butter lamps are kept in a it small room near the main temple and one can make offerings .
This temple reminded me of a small village temple where people come for prayers and meeting one another.I am put off by large , popular temples where one has to stand in a serpentine queue for hours to see the idol for a minute or less before you are pushed out by the milling crowd.Here people seemed unhurried and one can sense the serenity and spirituality all around.
I spent some time in the temple garden and returned to the hotel happy with the auspicious beginning.