Chorten Kora and Namgang Kora

Chorten Kora and Namgang Kora

There is an annual Dakpa Kora (circumambulation of the Chorten by the Dakpas) festival held on the 15th of the first lunar month, and a Drukpa Kora (circumambulation of the Chorten by the Bhutanese) festival held at the end of the first lunar month, which celebrates the stupa. These festivals are attended by Dakpa people of the neighboring Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh in India, and Bhutanese from Tashiyangtse, Tashigang, and Kurtoe.

A popular belief is that when the stupa was constructed, a pious Dakini princess from neighboring Arunachal Pradesh in India entombed herself within, as the Yeshe Semba, to meditate on behalf of all beings. A popular Bhutanese (Dzongkha language) film “Chorten Kora” is based on this legend.

Devotees from Tawang in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh joi their Bhutanese counterparts in the Namgang Kora, one of eastern Bhutan’s oldest religious festivals, which is held annually at the Chorten Kora, Trashiyangtse.

 The biggest religious event in the Dzongkhag, the Namgang Kora (circumambulating the Chorten on the last day of the auspicious first month) is preceded by the Tse-Chenga Kora, a similar celebration on the 15th day of the first month of the Bhutanese calendar.

Lam Dorji of Rigsum Goenpa who organizes the festival, said that the tradition of circumambulation began after the present chorten was built by Lam Ngawang Lotey, the nephew of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The physical structure of the chorten was copied from the Bodi Chorten in Nepal.

Once a deeply spiritual tradition, the event today has been commercialized and diluted, according to devotees. With hundreds of shops set up in huts and tents, Chorten Kora appears more like a bustling fair than a spiritual venue.

This year one of the main attractions at the festival has been the five video parlors run by diesel generators that screen three to four of films a day. Food and game stalls, cloth show rooms, diverse wares both made locally and imported line the way to the Chorten.