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Losar : The Year of The Water Dragon Begins

22 February, 2012 Bodhgaya

Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya held its Tibetan New Year prayer ceremony on February 22, 2012. At around 7 am, two major lamas of the Karma Kagyu tradition, His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche, entered the shrine room to lead the prayers, the first day of the three-day Tibetan New Year prayer festival. Monks, nuns and laypeople expectantly queued outside as early as 6 am, entering the monastery’s main shrine room gradually at sunrise. Soon the monastery’s main hall was packed to the brim. Visible from the main door and the windows were hundreds sitting on the portico of the monastery, partaking in the celebrations from the outside.

The two lamas, sitting on thrones facing each other, led the prayers to clear away the obstacles and make an auspicious start to the new Water Dragon Year. The monks began to read from the texts, especially compiled by the Gyalwang Karmapa for the New Year prayer ceremony. At Read the rest of this article

Kyabje Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestows Long-Life Empowerment

21 February, 2012 Bodhgaya

On the afternoon of the last day of the Tibetan year of the Iron Rabbit, His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestowed the Buddha Amitayu Long Life Empowerment at the Monlam Pavilion in Bodhgaya from 2:00 pm on February 21, 2012. He was giving the empowerment at the behest of Gyalwang Karmapa. His Eminence’s throne was set in front of the pavilion, with the newly consecrated giant thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni serving as a magnificent backdrop to the ceremony. His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was seated on the right, along with other rinpoches and lamas, including Khenpo Lodro Dhonyo from Bokar Ngedon Choling Monastery in Mirik. Monks from all over the world took part in the ceremony, which lasted for over an hour. First Gyaltsap Rinpoche talked briefly about the significance of the Protector Mahakala for the Kagyu tradition. According to him, the Second Karmapa, Karmapa Pakshi, had said that the mind of the Karmapa and Mahakala are inseparable.

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New Year’s Eve: Unfurling the Large Appliqué Thangka

21 February, 2012 Bodhgaya

This morning, in a two-hour ceremony at the Monlam Pavilion, a magnificent appliqué thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni, flanked by the bodhisattvas Maitreya andManjusri, was unfurled and consecrated. It had taken six months, from June to December 2011, to make the thangka, measuring 20 feet by 30 feet. It was constructed in a prayer hall at Gyuto Monastery, the Gyalwang Karmapa’s current residence in North India, under the close supervision and direction of the Gyalwang Karmapa  himself, who visited the project at least once a day. On completion, the thangka was carefully packed into a specially constructed metal cylinder and brought across India by lorry from the north eastern Himalayan foothills to Bodhgaya on the central western plains.

Rehearsals for the ceremony, began just after 7.00am and finished at 10.00am; patiently the Gyalwang Karmapa instructed everyone in precisely what to do and when. The ceremony itself began at 10.15am when the Read the rest of this article

Mahakala Puja: Clearing away Obstacles

16 – 21 February, 2012

The morning of February 16th began with the participants formally assuming their seats (gral ’dzin) in the shrine hall. Standing outside the shrine hall and before more than one thousand monks and nuns, the discipline master read out the names of those taking responsibility for the various aspects of the practice. They are given a specific place so that they can do their respective work. The list began with Situ Rinpoche and continued all the way to the younger monks, who pass up and down the aisles offering tea. After the list of names was called out, the rest of the sangha moved quickly into their places. In general, the discipline master oversees the proper functioning of the practice within the shrine hall, and so once everyone was settled into their places, he gave a Dharma Talk (tshogs gtam), explaining what each person could and could not do.

When the Gyalwang Karmapa came in to the shrine hall for the ceremony, he was wearing The Read the rest of this article

Mahakala Puja Part Four: Lama Dance

20 February, 2012 Bodhgaya


February 20th was a day full of firsts. It was the first time that the Gyalwang Karmapa has performed in the lama dances since coming to India in January of 2000. It was the first time that the Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Gyaltsap Rinpoche have participated together in the dances. It was the first time in India that the Karmapa could engage in the full length of the Mahakala practice that precedes the Tibetan New Year, and it was the first occasion when all the Kagyu Sanghas have gathered for this practice. All of these firsts came together on the twenty-ninth day of the last month in the Tibetan calendar, which is dedicated to protector practice, making this a particularly powerful occasion for the removal of obstacles and negativity.

The day actually started the previous night at 11pm with the beginning of “The Abridged Burning Up Anger,” and the chanting continued through to 5:30 the next morning. The thundering sound of the two immense drums and about thirty smaller ones as well as the swift pace of the chanting must have helped the Sangha to Read the rest of this article