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Archive for November, 2007

Akshobya board

(Photo: Sketch of Mitrugpa’s Pure Realm on wooden board.)

This year’s Monlam torma features the Buddha Akshobhya.

Maitripa head Maitripa body

(Photos: Sketch and torma sculpture of Buddha Akshobhya).

Akshobhya prayers will be recited daily during the 25th Kagyu Monlam. Please click on the Kagyu Monlam link for a complete schedule.

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H.H. Karmapa visits Bhutan 1

(Photo: His Holiness sits for tea on the lawn.)

H.H. Karmapa visits Bhutan 2

(Photo: His Holiness talking with Lama Chodrak of Kagyu Monlam and Lama Rinchen of the Royal Bhutan Monastery.)

His Holiness made a short visit to the Kagyu Monlam office headquarters at the Royal Bhutan Monastery (“RBM”) on November 28. Monlam staff who are stationed at the RBM site spent the morning cleaning and organizing their workspace in preparation for Karmapa’s visit. When he arrived promptly at 2PM, he walked into the main temple which was surrounded by both Monlam staff and body guards and walked across the lawn to visit the torma artists and the administrative office.

With a steady glance around the rooms and nodding in acknowledgment at the staff, he made his way toward the lawn where afternoon tea and snack were waiting for him. The usual bustle of activity including hammering and sawing was altogether suspended and in its stead, a familiar and relaxed silence, something for which the Royal Bhutan Monastery is well known. As he made his exit, His Holiness caught sight of the wooden Tori pillar under construction and nodded.  Job well done?

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Lama Chokyi tori colour

(Photo: Architect Lama Chokyi with the Shinto design.)

tori

(Photo: One of the four wooden pillars.)

A new design is planned for the main gate of the Mahabodhi Stupa. For years, the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo used a simple bamboo gate with auspicious symbols and banners, but this year, His Holiness chose the elegance and simplicity of the Japanese Shinto gate design. Thus far, only one of the four wooden pillars is nearly constructed.

Lama Chokyi Gyatso, previously an architectural engineer from Taiwan and who currently resides in Bokar Ngedon Choekorling Monastery in Mirik, designed the gate for approval by His Holiness.  Speaking in fluent Tibetan, Lama Chokyi is sought after as much for his engineering skills as for his humble presence.

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Amitayu torma

(Photo: Amitayu Torma)

Gyens Ani’s painting the gyens

(Photos: Gyens or ornaments; Ani-la’s decorating the Gyens.)

Shalzay tormas

(Tormas: Gyens on Shalzay tormas.)

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 Dorje Wangyal

 (Photo: Dorje Wangyal returning from yet another trip to Gaya.)

For months leading up to the Great Kagyu Monlam, Dorje Wangyal, a Monlam veteran employee, had been actively gathering supplies, contacting food vendors, picking up deliveries, carrying shipments, coordinating with the 40 cooks he supervises and so on.  With so much responsibility, it would seem that he rarely has time for a break, but surprisingly enough, he takes breaks while working.  He is spotted among his staff folding napkins, carrying boxes of shipments, and serving food.  Truly a hands-on worker, Dorje is a protean man who sees broadly and is concerned with the big and the small.

Hammering vats Weaving teapot handles

(Photos: Hammering food vats, weaving teapot handles.)

The Dining Team employs a large group of staff.  Nearly 150 workers prepare meals for over 4,000 monastics, hundreds of Lamas and Rinpoches and the international pilgrims.  There are also the daily tea and bread offerings at the Stupa for which the staff has to prepare, ensuring that there are enough teapots and bread baskets in advance.  Many from the dining team arrived early in Bodhgaya to prepare materials and supplies and also to help feed the many staff already on hand.

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Umze Ozer Rabten leads the Monlam prayers each year.  At the end of this short video clip, listen to Umze chant part of the “Dorje Chang” prayer.  This melody is the Tibetan melody that was composed by His Holiness along with the more popular Chinese one.

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Last year’s Kagyu Monlam Chenmo brought nearly 7,000 pilgrims to Bodhgaya. This video is a slideshow of select photos from Monlam 24.

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