By the fall of 2015, Pemagatshel dzongkhag is likely to have a proper prayer hall (Choekhang), a proper place for its annual Moenlam Chhenmo.
The decision to build a permanent prayer hall that was necessary to facilitate proper conduct of an important congregation like moenlam chhenmo which has become an annual event. In the long run, it will save costs from not having to construct temporary sheds each time a mass gathering takes place in the dzongkhag.
“We have already identified a government land at a place called Bainangzor right near dzongkhag road about six kilometres away from present Pemagatshel throm towards the new Denchi throm. Preliminary survey had also been conducted and found the place to be ideal,” said Shumar Gup Lepo.
He said that while some site development works needs to be taken up, the place has adequate water supply and it is close to road too and a good distance away from crowded area.
The Gup, who is the secretary of dzongkhag moenlam chhenmo committee, said the benefits of having a structure that can house a large gathering are multifarious. The hall can be used for other purposes too.
Since the dzongkhag does not have a public hall or ground, the timing of the great prayer has is scheduled during school breaks and is held in the school ground.
This is not always ideal as the school’s only playground has to be dug up in the process of putting up the temporary prayer hall. And sometimes temperatures can plummet to near freezing point during the winter months making it inconvenient for elderly people to attend the prayers.
Another problem faced from the lack of adequate public place for such a gathering is sanitation and congestion. There are dozens of hawkers who follow moenlam chhenmo to various dzongkhags and they put up their sheds on virtually every empty space.
With adequate space being a rarity in Pemagatshel school area, these hawkers put their stalls right from the edge of the road making it extremely difficult for both the pedestrian and motorists to maneuver during the prayer times.
“It was a nightmare taking my sick mother everyday to hospital as crowds refuse to give way and even worse when there is an oncoming traffic. This decision to have a permanent prayer hall away from the already crowded place will be just what we need,” said Sangay a local resident of Pemagatshel.
All these inadequacies will be addressed once the permanent prayer hall is constructed. The dzongkhag is in the process of designing the public infrastructures with all basic essential for public like toilet, kitchen, store and parking spaces available.
Officials called for a hall that is even appropriate enough as recreational purposes for indoor games like badminton. But the biggest advantage is that the organizers and authorities will not have to worry about bad weather and inconveniences to the nearby schools whenever there is a need for large public gatherings.
The fund for the construction will be generated locally through contributions from all the 11 gewogs which was agreed to during the last Dzongkhag Tshokdu (DT). Corporate entities within the dzongkhag are also expected to make contributions for this far reaching decision.
“Since it is our aspiration and that of people too, to have meonlam chhenmo conducted annually, how long can we go about constructing temporary prayer hall and make ad-hoc residential arrangements in odd places for guests and members of His Holiness’s retinue?” asks Zobel Gup Pema Dorji.
“We need to have a proper place, and the sooner we have, the better it would be for all of us.”
Others said that, the proximity of the site for the proposed public hall to Shumar gewog centre will also make it ideal for people from far off places. The facilities at the gewog centre will be ideal for accommodation to these people which remains a problem right now.