English | Dzongkha Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Crafting prayer wheel

Yeshi Gyelsthen, Paro
Jan 28, 2014

Crafting prayer wheelIt is believed that spinning a prayer wheel has the same benefits of chanting a prayer. Prayer wheels or Mani Dungkors come in different sizes and can be most commonly seen around religious structures. But how are these wheels made. In Paro, a 64-year-old man has been doing this for over 30 years and plans to keep going for as long as he can.

Samdrup, 64, in Paro is a skilled Prayer Wheel maker. He has been making prayer wheels for the last 30 years now.

Born in Kurtoe, he came to Paro as a young man when he was only 20 years of age. Before he started this trade, he says he did some small businesses to make a living.

When he was around 30 years old, he started learning the craft of making prayer wheel from his late uncle. Since then he has been engaged in making prayer wheels for both religious bodies and individuals. He says he doesn’t get much time for other things, but he enjoys his work and has never refused an order.

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“…the work is spiritually beneficial as it is a good deed. Inside a prayer wheel is a Zung which has been prepared by a Lama. Then we wrap the wheel with religious scripts and cover them up with clothes and tie them up with strings.”

Samdrup says there are three kinds of prayer wheels- the Lakor which is spun by hand, the Chhukor – which spins with the help of water and the Lungkor which spins with the help of the wind.

According to Samdrup, making a prayer wheel doesn’t require complex skills. “One important thing a person must do is get the blessing from a Lama before you start. Then you need to know which type of scriptures is used and how they are to be placed”

Samdrup says he has travelled to other dzongkhags as well. He has been to Thimphu, Samtse, Dagana, Chhukha and still frequently has to go to Haa. He has made prayer wheels in Dzongs, monasteries and even in people’s homes.

Making a prayer takes him from a day or two to even a week depending on its size.

“The big ones take around two days if all the preparations are made and if all the materials have also been taken care of. Then it also takes another day to cover up the wheel with the metal sheets and give the final touches.” 

Samdrup says this work doesn’t earn him much, but he says he does it mostly for the benefits. He says he plans to keep doing it as long as his body has the energy to do so.

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