Bhutan | Bumthang

Ogyen Choling Lochoe Home Ceremony

Embrace Bhutan Cultural Tour

Bumthang | Bhutan

14 Nov 2019 | Thu

Day 08 of 13

  • Ogyen Choling Lochoe Home Ceremony
  • Group Prayer Flag Ceremony at Ogyen Choling Manor
  • Ogyen Choling Village Countryside Walkabout
  • Lunch at Ogyen Choling Manor
  • Bhutanese Dance Demonstration
  • Ogyen Choling Manor Museum

Ogyen Choling Lochoe Home Ceremony

Welcomed Into Their Home

After getting up early this morning, Kanchana and I decided to take a walk through the nearby Ogyen Choling Village. While doing this, we walked by a home that sounded like a Buddhist ceremony was being performed (sound of a drum and monk chanting). Being curious, we walked closer to the home when we were approached by a family member, who motioned for us to come inside. We felt so lucky to be welcomed into their home to see this unique ceremony.

At the time, we did not know what it was called or exactly its significance. But later on, our wonderful guide Tashi Topden explained in detail what the ceremony was all about (see explanation below).

Ceremony Being Performed in the Home’s Chosham (Bhutanese Shire Room)
The Home’s Beautiful Chosham Room (Bhutanese Shrine Room)

We were taken to the home’s beautiful Bhutanese Chosham room (Bhutanese Shrine Room). In the room was what looked like a father, daughter, and local monk. The monk was performing a Buddhist ritual that included chanting and playing a single drum (positioned next to him, vertically).

Nga (རྔ་) or drums are used widely in Bhutan as musical instruments for religious rituals or for folk music and performances. Drums are fundamental instruments in the set of religious musical kit. It is commonly used to regulate most of the religious chanting either on its own or with the accompaniment of a cymbal and other musical instruments. The Bhutanese drums have drumhead on the two sides of the wooden body and is usually played using drumsticks.

The main body of the drum is made of wood from toona or red cedar trees. It is carved and treated to form a concave curve and skin of calves are stretched on both sides of the wooden frame. Before the skin is stuck, prayers printed on paper called ngazung (རྔ་གཟུངས་) are pasted on the inner walls of the drum frame in order to consecrate and give power to the drums. The prayers include special mantras, dhāraṇī spells and verses which are believed to enhance the spiritual power of the drum when it is played and the sound is heard by the people.

– University of Virginia, Mandala Library Nga: Drums

Monk Performing Lochoe Ceremony
Father and Daughter Making Torma Dough and Butter Sculptures

While the monk was performing this ceremony, the father and daughter were making/rolling small figurines out of some sort of dough-like material. We sat and watched while the monk performed different chants.

We didn’t want to impose on them for too long, so after a little while, we found our way out through the kitchen. Here we were welcomed by whom we figured was the mother and grandmother of the home.

Mother and Grandmother of the Home
Home’s Large Kitchen with Wood Stove
Burning Evergreen Incense Offering Outside Home

We felt so honored that this family would welcome us into their home to observe this Buddhist ceremony. It was an amazing surprise that we didn’t expect to take place when we started our early morning walk through the village.

Meaning of Choe Suung | Lochoe Ceremony

In Bumthang this type of ritual is known as “Choe Suung” an annual ritual held in every household to appease family’s (protective) deities. It is also meant to ward off misfortune and rejuvenate good karma in the family. This annual religious practice is also known as “Lochoe” in other parts of Bhutan especially in the western districts of Bhutan.

During the ritual, the deities are represented by the torma dough and butter sculptures. A tantric ritual involving visualization and chanting of mantras is conducted although this can vary from region to region.

In course of the rituals, the family’s deities are invited to the house to enjoy the offerings as a token of gratitude. Liturgies for confession and supplication are also chanted to make amends for any wrongdoing and failure to propitiate them on time or follow their wishes. The members of the household would be often called to make prostrations as these prayers are chanted. The religious ceremony often ends with the ritual to enhance longevity and wealth.

A yearly household ritual in which family members renew their good relations, with the local deities, and with the community at large. The purpose is to ensure the well-being, health and fortune for the entire family, including livestock. Based on the idea that the natural environment is inhabited by numerous beings, some well-meaning and some vicious, the place of birth links a person to specific regional deities. Local deities and spirits are associated with places such as mountain peaks, lakes, cliffs and river confluences. The relationship with these local deities has to be kept in balance in order to avoid negative consequences such as sickness and misfortune.

It is a seasonal celebration when a family gets together to make offerings to its protecting deities and have a festive gathering with its neighbours and community.

Lochoe can vary by scale and duration, depending on the wealth and status of the family. It remains significant as an evidence of the flourishing Vajrayana Buddhism in Bhutan.

– Tashi Topden Embrace Bhutan Travel

Map – Ogyen Choling Village

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