Archive for December, 2007

After one busy month in Bodhgaya, His Holiness left Tergar promptly at 8AM for Sarnath. This year’s closure was a rather complete and satisfying one as the Gwalwang Karmapa extended so much of himself to organizing the Monlam. There didn’t seem to be a place where his influence did not reach: he shaped each of the department’s initiatives, whether directly or through the activities of his three main assistant supervisors. As it was heard, this year’s Monlam was successful, not because people thought it was great but because many people actually felt joy and well-being as a result of the prayers.

The Buddha sat before us under the Bodhi Tree, prayed with us for the peace and happiness of all beings, pointed out the path of liberation and blessed us all in his absence.

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Khenpo Tenam

(Photo: Khenpo Tenam, His Holiness’ personal Khenpo mixes the ashes of the names of the deceased with mud.)

The day after His Holiness burnt the names of the deceased, Khenpo Tenam and Khenpo Chokdrup created tsa-tsa’s from the ashes, shaped them like stupas and offered the consecrated tsa-tsa’s in sacred rivers.

Khenpos pouring ashes

(Photo: Khenpo Tenam and Khenpo Chokdrup pours the ashes into the local river.)

Khenpos praying 1 Khenpos praying 2

(Photos: Khenpos offering prayers.)

Photos of Khenpos at the river are by courtesy of Kagyu Monlam.

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Kagyu Monlam website

Dear readers,

If our blog was slow in providing updates, it was purely because our own daily activities were too hectic. (We do have other assignments during monlam.) However, the kagyu monlam website itself has been delivering amazing daily updates. So, witness for yourselves, the brainstorm of our website team!

We will try soon to post additional material on our monlam escapades. So, stay tuned…

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Night before Monlam

Days before Monlam began, small bands spent nights setting up at the Stupa. The shrine keepers had to set up all the tormas, the seating team had to arrange over 5000 seats for the sangha and the tori gate needed to be erected and painted.  The chopan, or the main leader of the rites and ritual team, camped out all night for 2 nights while the gate was being erected.  On the first night, he and two other assistants were bundled up  in their red robes and huddled in a blanket while the following night, a small tent was erected to add a little privacy and perhaps small comfort.  The gate will remain intact until March at the request of the Mahabodhi Society.

gate tori gate
(Photo: The tori gate just before monlam began.)

preparing Akshobya

(Photo: Torma artists settting up the palace of Akshobhya.)

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Following is a special message by the CEO of Kagyu Monlam, Lama Karma Chodrak:

This year, the Kagyu Monlam Organization is sponsoring special long life prayers and offerings for His Holiness Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The long-life puja will begin on December 13, 2007 at Tergar Monastery and will conclude on the morning of December 19th with Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities, Activities and Traditional Offerings presented to His Holiness underneath the Bodhi Tree. The ceremonies will be conducted and presided over by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, and others.


Please join us in offering prayers and aspirations for the long life and excellent health of the Gyalwang Karmapa!

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Umze Ozer Rabten

(Photo: Monlam’s Chant Master, Umze Ozer Rabten also known as “Umze Bai Karma.”)

Umze Ozer Rabten has been leading the Kagyu Monlam prayers at the Stupa for several years now. Click on the video link to watch an interview with Umze Bai Karma.)

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Lama Sangye

(Photo: Lama Sangye working on the main mural.)

Pure realm 1 Detail of Dragons

(Photos: Details.)

Pure realm 2

(Photo: Ani-la painting goldleaf on the roof.)

We were requested to put up some photos of the torma mural depicting the pure realm of Buddha Akshobhya by His Holiness Karmapa. These photos are nearly the right color. Sad to say these pictures do not do justice to the actual colors of the mural. The golden glow is not just from the sun setting, but from the gold-leafed rooftop trim on the palace.

As the weeks progressed, the wooden board (see previous Buddha Mitrugpa post) evolved rapidly. Lateral wooden supports nailed to the main piece were erected first. Next, the palace building made of a butter mixture was sculpted on the wooden supports and quite overnight, the details began. For days on end, the details were painted. Details always seem to take the longest time. By the way, this mural is based on a Chinese painting.

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Security at Tergar Monastery

security security 1

(Photos: Security check at the main door.)

Security is very tight even one month prior to Monlam. Metal detectors are positioned in front of the main doors and security guards wielding scanners do a thorough body and bag check. Mobile phones are banned since these create interference with the radiowaves being used for simultaneous translations of teachings. Any electronic device that causes interference is piled in bags outside the doors. It’s best to be aware of these restrictions and avoid any delays. The queues are long enough as it is.

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