On weekdays the prayers end at the time the quake struck

In another year and a half, the reconstructed Ringjhim Buddhist monastery of this hill town facing the Kanchenjunga mountain peak would have completed 100 years. On September 18, the monastery was reduced to rubble in the high-intensity earthquake, half an hour after the monks finished their routine prayers.

“Since it was a Sunday, the prayer session finished at 5.30 p.m. On weekdays, the routine afternoon prayer session is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The earthquake occurred around 6.10 p.m. Had it been a weekday, we all would have come under the rubble of the monastery walls and ceilings. We are fortunate to survive,” the Principal of the Institution of Buddhist Learning of the monastery, Acharya Prema Dorjee told The Hindu.

The monks are now offering their daily prayers in one of the rooms used for imparting lessons on Buddhist rituals.

Appeal to residents

Mr. Dorjee said a new monastery building would be constructed and efforts would be to start the work before the next annual congregation of 400 senior Lamas of different monasteries scheduled in March 2012. He has appealed to the residents of Mangan and nearby areas to help in the reconstruction. The monastery has five senior monks and 55 student monks.

The monastery was first set up in the 17th century. However, it was destroyed in a fire and a new building was constructed in 1913, Mr. Dorjee said. He plans to seek the Sikkim government's assistance during Chief Minister P.K. Chamling's scheduled visit to the monastery for a first-hand assessment of the damage caused.

Church collapses

A church also collapsed in Mangan while cracks have appeared in most of the residential and government buildings in this headquarters town.