Sikkim quake: Early Sunday prayers saved monks of Ringjhim monastery

by Saibal Gupta, PTI, Sep 25, 2011

Sikkim , India -- It was a providential escape for the 60-odd monks living in the century-old Ringjhim Buddhist monastery in North Sikkim whose prayer room was reduced to rubble in the temblor that shook Sikkim last Sunday.

The monastery houses five senior monks and 55 students and as it was a Sunday, the monks had finished their prayer session half an hour earlier rather than the usual time of 6 pm on weekdays.

The earthquake struck at 6.10 pm ruining the holy prayer hall in a matter of minutes before the monks could run for shelter. Had the prayer meeting continued till 6 PM as on week days, the monks could have been trapped inside, the Principal of the Institution of Buddhist Learning of the monastery, Acharya Prema Dorjee told PTI.

"On weekdays the routine afternoon prayer session is from 4 pm to 6 pm but as it was Sunday we finished the prayer session at 5.30 pm in the evening and the earthquake hit this part of the region at 6.10 pm," Acharya Prema Dorjee told PTI.

"We saw part of our coveted institution crumbling down like a house of cards. Had it been a weekday we would all have been under the debris" Dorjee said.

"We would all have died but it was our good luck that we survived. Had it been a week day no one would have survived" a senior monk said.