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