I felt blessed to offer prayers in the benign presence of His Eminence the 12th Goshir Gyalshab Rinpoche and to witness the ceremonious ‘Gutur Chaam’ on the auspicious occasion of Kagyed Dance held today at Karma Thubten Chokerling Monastery or the Old Rumtek Monastery.

At the outset, I informed the gathering that the State Government has been successful in getting permission for the visit of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorji to Sikkim from the Government of India. Now it is up to His Holiness to visit Sikkim as and when he so desires. I also shared about my recent letter to His Holiness seeking his early visit for blessing the people of Sikkim, for which I have received His Holiness’s acknowledgement duly appreciating the efforts of the State Government.

I highlighted on the significance of functions like ‘Chaams’ and other religious ceremonies related to Buddhism which are being celebrated since time immemorial and give continuity to them as preservation of our rich heritage. Recounting the great contribution of the Three Holy Lamas in the history of Sikkim, I informed that as a befitting honour to these great souls, the State Government has decided to construct their statues at Yuksom, the first capital of Sikkim. On completion, this destination shall be a major attraction to highlight the rich history of Sikkim.

It is a fact that the Chogyals, together with the ethnic three communities – Bhutias, Lepchas and Nepalis had made Sikkim an exceptional country. We all know that as the 22nd state of the Country, Sikkim is a relatively young state. Inspite of our late entry in the Indian Union, Sikkim today is the most progressive and the fastest growing state. It is a matter of pride for all of us that Sikkim leads all other states in many sectors particularly in tourism, organic farming, cleaniness etc. This is a stark contrast to what Sikkim was when we came at the helm of affairs. There was a time when Sikkim was the most backward and unknown state. We had to learn from others, but today the scenario has changed completely. People now come from all over the world to learn from us. The development and the transformation that the State has witnessed is unprecedented and worth appreciating. I therefore, urged everyone to come together to further the progress with innovative and creative approach to take Sikkim to greater heights and glory.

I spoke at length about the welfare measures initiated towards preservation and promotion of Buddhism in the State. In the 24 years of our governance, there has been a sharp increase in the number of monasteries. Various monasteries have been renovated and most of the monasteries across the State are well maintained through Government grants. Monastic schools have been established with free distribution of uniforms, books etc. Salaries of monastic teachers have been enhanced and made at par with school teachers. Bhutia and Lepcha languages are being taught till university level. I also informed about the establishment of Buddhist University and Amji college. Modern education is imparted to the monks along with monastic teachings with the objective of widening the knowledge of the monks beyond performing prayers and rituals at the ‘Gumpas.’ In fact, the State Government wishes to provide them with modern day quality education so that they become well-educated scholars, capable of promoting and preaching Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy world over. Besides, the ‘lamas’ are also provided all the welfare benefits at par with lay people of Sikkim. Even a separate Janta Mela is held to provide them with government welfare schemes/benefits.

I made the following announcements:-

1.Grants will be provided for purchasing ’shentap’ (dress) for monks.

2. Construction of houses for beneficiaries possessing CMRHM allotment order distributed in 2014 will be taken up on priority, provided the beneficiaries are genuinely needy. If not, such beneficiaries may opt for either house up-gradation scheme or take GCI sheets as per their need.

3.In-principle sanction of all demands placed by the people of the locality related to construction of ‘gumpas’, roads, etc.