The Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola has received new robes of office for the first time since the creation of Sandus. The old, more simple sheet of fabric will be retired and in its place the Sôgmô will wear new, specifically-purposed robes.
Since June 2009, the Sôgmô has always worn blue robes to important ceremonial and state occasions. As Grand Lama of the Grand Lamate of Sandefreistikhan, as Sandus was known at the time, það took up the robes early on in þess reign which lasted from May to July 2009, before becoming the Speaker of the People’s State of Sandus (the leader of that regime). Over more than five regime changes from 2009 to 2011, það donned the robes during important state and ceremonial occasions. Finally, on 13 April 2011, the former robes became the regalia for the newly-formed State of Sandus.
In 2017, new robes were added to the official regalia of the State of Sandus, which now include the Sôgmô’s graduation robes.
Today, the day after Losar or the Tibetan New Year and during the Chötrul Düchen holiday, the Sôgmô has formally retired the old robes and has announced that new official Regal State Robes will be used in their stead. The new robes are a darker blue than the previous robes, recalling the blue of the State Flag, and reflect the solemn role and purpose of the Sôgmô’s office established since before the current constitution.
The tradition of the robes dates to Sandefreistikhan, in Sandus’s early history, when the Lama of Sandus was expected to reflect the moral outlook and solemn duty of members of the Buddhist sangha. This tradition and this idea that the leader of the nation is a morally upright and intellectual scholar, like many Buddhist monks, has continued to the present day with the Sôgmô.
The Regal State Robes are meditations robes designed for primarily Pure Land Buddhist practitioners, and were chosen both for their colour and their thrift. The robes are incredibly utilitarian because they are tied and have pockets—and sleeves, unlike the previous robes. The colour of the robes, moreover, is both specific to Sandus and is not a colour used by any other Buddhist tradition. The Sôgmô was careful not to choose a colour which is identified with any particular Buddhist tradition’s robes for ordained people, since það is not an ordained person in any sangha.
Það will wear these robes in July when they attend the 2018 MicroFrancophonie Summit.