Trongsa Drupchen


The three-day annual Gonpo Drupchen is performed in Trongsa Dzong. The purpose of the ritual of Gonpo Drupchen is to bring peace to sentient beings and to protect the entire country. Gonpo (mgon po) is a deity (Mahakala in Sanskrit) which protects Bhutan, and Drupchen (sgrub chen) means “great prayer.”


The first Drupchen in Bhutan was established by the Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyel at Cheri Monastery in the Thimphu valley in the 17th century. Later this Gonpo Drupchen was performed in Punakha Dzong, and until the 1980s this ritual was only performed in these two locations.

The 68th Je Khenpo Tenzin Dendup and the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck decided to expand the ritual to three additional locations: Wangdue Dzong, Paro Dzong and Trongsa Dzong. The first Gonpo Drupchen of Trongsa started in 1988. According to our informant, Trongsa was chosen as one of the new sites for the Drupchen because it was already a large dratshang (grwa tshang), or state monastic school, that would be capable of performing a large-scale ritual annually. The head of the dratshang at that time was Lam Neten Rinchen from Taktse village.

Description of Ritual Performance

Before the Gonpo Drupchen starts, the head of the Trongsa monastic body and other monks perform rituals for seven days and nights, focused on the deity Gonpo. Then, the three day Drupchen begins, with the dances of each day listed below. All dances of the Drupchen are performed by monks from the dratshang

Day 1

  1. དབང་ཕྱུག་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (dbang phyug yab yum)
  2. སྤྲེའུ་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (spre’u yab yum)
  3. བདུད་མགོན་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (bdud mgon yum)
  4. ་ཇག་མན།     (jag man)
  5. གཤིན་རྗེ་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (gshin rje yab yum)
  6. སྒོ་མོ། (sgo mo)
  7. དྲང་སྲོང་། (drang srong)
  8. ཀླུ་བདུད། (klu bdud)
  9. བེག་བཙན། (beg btsan)
  10. ཞྭ་དབོན། (zhwa dbon)
  11. ཚངས་མགོན། (tshang mgon)

Day 2

  1. གཤིན་རྗེ་ཡབ་ཡུམ།  (gshin rje yum)
  2. སྒོ་མཚམས་བརྒྱད་ཀྱི་ཁྱུང་། (sgo mtshams brgyad kyi khyung)
  3. སྒོ་མཚམས་བྱ་རྒོད། (sgo mtshams bya rgod)
  4. སྒོ་མཚམས་ཕག (sgo mtshams phag)
  5. སྒོ་མཚམས་འུག་པ། (sgo mtshams ‘ug pa)
  6. སྒོ་མཚམས་ཁྱི། (sgo mtshams khyi)
  7. ཁྭ་ཏ། (khwa ta)
  8. སྤྱང་ཁྱི། (spyang khyi)
  9. སྟག། (stag)

Day 3

  1. སྒོ་མཚམས་བརྒྱད་ཀྱི་ཁྱུང་། (sgo mtshams brgyad kyi khyung)
  2. སྒོ་མཚམས་བྱ་རྒོད། (sgo mtshams bya rgod)
  3. སྒོ་མཚམས་ཕག (sgo mtshams phag)
  4. སྒོ་མཚམས་འུག་པ། (sgo mtshams ‘ug pa)
  5. སྒོ་མཚམས་ཁྱི། (sgo mtshams)
  6. ཝ་ཏི། (wa ti)
  7. སྤྱང་ཁྱི། (spyang khyi)
  8. སྟག། (stag)
  9. དབང་ཕྱུག་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (dbang phyug yab yum)
  10. སྤྲེའུ་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (spre’u yab yum)
  11. བདུད་མགོན་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (bdud mgon yab yum)
  12. ཇག་མག། (jag mag)
  13. གཤིན་རྗེ་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (gshin rje yab yum)
  14. སྒོ་མོ། (sgo mo)
  15. སྟག། (stag)
  16. འདྲེ། (’bre)
  17. དྲང་སྲོང་། (drang srong)
  18. བ་གླང་། (ba glang)
  19. ཆུ་སྲིན། (chu srin)
  20. ཀླུ་བདུད་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (klu bdud yab yum)
  21. བེག་བཙན་སྤྲུལ་པ། (beg btsan sprul pa)
  22. བེག་བཙན་ཡབ་ཡུམ། (beg btsan yab yum)
  23. ཞྭང་དབོན། (zhwang dbon)
  24. གནོད་སྦིན། (gnod sbyin)
  25. ཤན་ཊི། (shan tI)
  26. ཚངས་མགོན། (tshang mgon)

On the final day of the ritual, after the dance programme has come to an end, the ritual cakes are ceremonially taken to Bjizam (sbyi zam) Bridge a few kilometres from Trongsa. Upon reciting prayers at this location, accompanied by several monks, the head of the Trongsa monastic body throws the ritual cakes into the Mangde (mang sde) River.

Informants: Lam Neten Wangchuk, Trongsa Dzong; Jampel, Library In-charge, Tshangkha village, 2013

Sangay Phuntsho
Asst. Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, RUB

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