Zhiwé Jinsek: A Fire Ritual

The zhiwé jinsek (ཞི་བའི་སྦྱིན་སྲེག་) is a fire rite. Fire rites in general mean visualization of deities, reciting mantras and burning various ingredients in the process. There are four different kinds of fire rites: zhiwé jinsek, gyepé jinsek, wangi jinsek and drakpoi jinsek. These can be conducted by invoking the blessings of Lama Guru Drakpo (a wrathful form of Guru Rinpoché), Dechok Khorlo Dompa (Chakrasamvara), Mitrupa (Buddha Aksobya) and Chenrezik (Avalokiteshvara).

When conducted for the living, zhiwé jinsek helps to prevent epidemics, avert the harmful effects of evil spirits, relieve famine and in general remove the negativities that have a bearing on the external, internal and secret wellbeing of the people, to encourage fulfillment of life’s aspirations. When conducted for the deceased, zhiwé jinsek helps to wash away all the sins accumulated during many lifetimes. The person’s soul will be saved from the sufferings of both the intermediate and the lower realms of existence, freeing it to attain a higher realm of birth and ideally, eventual enlightenment.

Therefore, zhiwé jinsek is a sacred rite considered extremely beneficial for both the living and deceased. His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra (b. 1955) has, along with the Central Monk body, initiated a tradition of performing it on a grand scale since 2009.

The reasons for conducting the fire rite are:

1. To help prevent epidemics, famine, strife/wars and natural disasters the world over.

2. The second important reason is that His Holiness the Je Khenpo has little time to conduct funeral rites for their dead as so many wish. Apart from having to conduct numerous essential traditional ceremonies for the good of the nation, the changing times have resulted in an increased workload and responsibilities for His Holiness. Therefore, the rite is an initiative born of the compassion of His Holiness for all deceased souls-cleaning recitations, blessings and prayers of dedication are carried out on a grand scale.


Ingredients served into the fire during the rite and their benefits are given below:

1. Fuel wood for enhancing personality.

2. Oil for increasing prosperity.

3. White mustard seed for washing away sins.

4. Yellow mustard seed for warding off effects by evil spirits.

5. Rice for increasing wealth.

6. White rice for bringing good fortune.

7. Barely seed for increasing power.

8. White beans for enhancing power and authority.

9. White buckwheat for preventing illness.

10. Curd mixed with other food items for economic prosperity.

11. Dhurva grass for longevity.

12. Kusha grass for safeguarding from all negativities.

13. Bilwa fruit for wish fulfillment.

14. Medicinal collections for overcoming diseases and illnesses.

15. White flower for good health.

16. Areca nut for enhancing tastes.

17. Silk and brocades for getting chance to wear all kinds of dress materials.


Phub Dorji Wang is a freelance writer on Bhutanese religion and culture.

Bhutan Cultural Library Fire Ritual Bhutan



Collection Bhutan Cultural Library
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users
Author Phub Dorji Wang
Year published 2018
Rights ཤེས་རིག་དང་ལམ་སྲོལ་གྱི་དོན་ལུ་ཕབ་བཟུང་ཞུས། ཤེས་རྒྱུན་ལས་སྡེ་ལས་གནང་བ་མེད་པར་བསྒྱུར་སྤེལ་འབད་མི་ཆོག། For educational and cultural use only. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from Shejun.
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