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Rimdro: The Timeless Practice of Bhutanese Buddhism

Bhutan, our small Himalayan kingdom nestled between China and India, is known for its unique blend of tradition and modernity. One such tradition that remains an integral part of Bhutanese culture is Rimdro, an annual religious practice that combines both spiritual and social elements.

Image: RMA Rimdro


Rimdro, which literally means "service," is a series of rituals, ceremonies, and practices that are undertaken for a wide range of purposes, including elongating life, overcoming illness, accumulating wealth, having good harvest, successfully finishing projects, and overcoming hindrances. Some Rimdros are calendar events, undertaken seasonally or annually, while others are observed as and when necessary.

The ultimate goal of all human endeavors, according to Buddhist teachings, is to reach enlightenment, the final state of happiness. However, Rimdros also serve intermediate or temporary goals, such as temporary happiness through health, long life, wealth, fame, good relationships, and the fulfillment of various wishes in one's ordinary life before reaching enlightenment.



There are different types of Rimdros that correspond to various purposes. Most Rimdros consist of meditation on a deity by visualizing the deity and chanting relevant mantras. Priests visualize the deity and chant the mantras to cultivate and evoke the spiritual power associated with the deity. They then use this power to bring about the specific objectives of the Rimdro.

For example, to elongate someone's life, a devotee undertakes the visualization of Buddha Amitayus and recites his mantras. As Amitayus is the Buddha of long life, the Rimdro on Buddha Amitayus helps the devotee receive the blessings of long life from Amitayus. In the same way, one may undertake or sponsor a Rimdro on the Medicine Buddha to recover from an illness or on Vajrapani to overcome a harmful spirit.

Rimdros can also involve simply reciting supplications and prayers, such as the popular practice of chanting the praise to the female Buddha Tara or Guru Rinpoche in Bhutan. It is believed that when one prays to such spiritual beings, a devotee can connect to them and become conducive for receiving their blessings, which clear problems.

Image:Bhutange


In some Rimdros, one just reads sutras or scriptural texts as they are believed to have the power to dispel obstacles. The books are even carried around the valley to avert natural calamities. Rimdros for the deceased are mainly prayers for good rebirth in a pure Buddha realm such as Sukhavati. There are also Rimdro rituals for appeasing the deities and spirits by making offerings, libations, and ablutions.

Rimdros can also be classified into four categories, aligning with four enlightened activities: peaceful, intensifying, magnetizing, and wrathful.

The first category of Rimdro is conducted through peaceful means for the sake of gentle pacification of problems.

The second type is about intensifying the good things, such as wealth and power, in order to have a flourishing life.

The third category magnetizes others to gain control over them and lead them on to the righteousness path.

The fourth type of Rimdro is the use of spiritual force in order to subjugate and subdue those (they consider) unruly and difficult beings who cause harm to others.


Rimdros can even be categorized into;

Sonpoi Rimdro

For well-being of individuals and communities, including those who are ill.

Tshok Khor Korni

Lhasoelni

Shinpoi Rimdro

Jawa Lamdro

Barchhe Lamsel Sagni

Sampa Lhuendupma Sagni


Rimdro is an integral part of Buddhism in Bhutan, and it is believed that these rituals are an evolution of Buddhism practices. However, some may question whether Rimdro is an original element of Buddhism or whether it belongs to another school of bliwf altogther.

In conclusion, Rimdro is a timeless practice that has been passed down through generations in Bhutan. It serves both spiritual and social purposes, and is a reminder of the importance of gratitude, generosity, and compassion in our daily lives. The next time you hear of Rimdro, remember that it is not just a religious ceremony, but a way of life.

Take a moment to appreciate the depth and significance of the practice. And who knows, it might just inspire you to explore more of Bhutan's ancient practices and culture.



In your opinion, what is the main purpose of Rimdro?

  • To reach enlightenment

  • To achieve temporary happiness (health, long life, wealth)

  • To appease deities and spirits

  • To protect oneself and one's community


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