|Photo: Dasho Karma Ura (Internet)|
One thing that often upset me much during my childhood days was when people tease me as ‘Pangkhar Thongthong’. My intimate friends use such description in their comic stories, and strangers while sneering at us (Pangkharpas). But, the humorous part that I now realize is that, both the parties seem to have no or less knowledge on the underlying principle behind such description. A mere ground of housing a statue of Thangthong Gyelpo (believed to be made by Thangthong himself) seems to be weak tool for either joke or insult. Otherwise, attaching such a large and holy surname ‘Thangthong’ to the name of our village should be a matter of happiness for us.
What makes me even more anxious when people tease us is that the sacred statue of Thangthong Gyelpo (The King of the Empty Plains) is housed in the private Lhakhang of my parents. While it has been the savior of all Pangkharps for centuries, the strong prophesy remained untouched in a small altar of my parents.
Although, there is no reliable source or chronicle on how and when the sacred clay statue of Thangthong Gyelpo reached Pangkhar Lhakhang, some elderly people share some mind-boggling legend on how it was left in the shrine of my parents.
My great-grandparents went through as the most underprivileged in the village for decades. Being a pathetic and fragile people, they suffered for food and cloth, but the Government tax tortured them the most. They lived on tenterhooks for long time, but hoping for better they fled to Kurtoe where food grows plenty and fruits bounty. However, to their dismay, life at Kurtoe did not turn out to be calm and comfy. Working under the scorching sun and the burning climate twisted to be even harder for them.
Hearing the heartrending story of my suffering great-grandparents at Kurtoe, some kind villagers determined to fetch them back to the village. Crossing the high and hard pass of Purshila, they arrived to their once ignored village. Here, opportunely, villagers unanimously agreed to assign them as an in-charge of Pangkhar Lhakhang where they can live in the space in the Lhakhang itself. Life became much easier from then on. They were able to mount up enough land for their sustainable survival.
Soon, the Pangkharps strong-willed to construct a new Lhakhang at some distance away. After completing the construction of stunning Lhakhang, people decided to shift all the relics. But the amazing story happened when they reached the halfway towards the new Lhakhang (near Pangkhar Watermill). The small clay statue of Thangthong Gyelpo (which is about three to four kilogram) became exceedingly heavy, that even the group of strongest men could not lift. On the contrary, as soon as they face the statue towards the old Lhakhang, it became very light, evidently signifying that it is destined to keep in the old Lhakhang itself. Helpless villagers carried the statue back and left in care of my great-grandparents.
The sacred statue has been then handed down generation to generation as a main relic in our shrine. Today, the scared statue is still housed in the small altar of my parents. I am proud to be ‘Pangkhar Thangthong’.