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A Joyous Celebration to Conclude the 34th Kagyu Monlam

The Pavilion stage underwent its final transformation of the Monlam into a space of simplicity with just the Buddha, a tall flower arrangement on either side of him, and in front, a seat and table for the Karmapa. The rest of the stage was cleared to give maximum space for this evening’s performers at this Marme Monlam, the Lamp Prayer. In front row of the audience were seated the Karmapa, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche’s Yangsi, and numerous other tulkus and khenpos. Also attending were two lamas from Hong Kong, the Ven. Master Kung Siu Kun and the Ven. Master Sik Yun Tsun.

A formal invitation had been sent to Indian dignitaries and many were present. Among these honored guests seated near the Karmapa were Amitabh Mathur, advisor to the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tibetan affairs; the District Magistrate of Gaya, Read the rest of this article

Losar Day Three: The Sangharama Ritual


1 March, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The protector Sangharama, also known by the name Guan Yu or Guan Gong, is a Chinese deity but also one of the protectors of the Karmapa’s Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet.

The connection between Sangharama and the Karmapa lineage began when the 5th Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa, travelled to China at the invitation of the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Sangharama, a local Chinese deity who lived on a mountain, was so impressed by the Karmapa, he decided to follow Deshin Shekpa back to Tsurphu Monastery, where the Karmapa offered him a new home on one of the mountains behind the monastery. It then became the tradition at Tsurphu to offer a practice to Sangharama each Losar. When the 16th Karmapa fled Tibet, the ritual was lost. The 17th Karmapa wrote a new liturgy, the one performed today, which uses both Tibetan Read the rest of this article

The Grand Garchen Losar Feast


28 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Entering the Pavilion one was struck by the long tables framing one side of the entrance, laid with hundreds of impressive terra cotta place settings. Tonight’s program was billed as a Grand Garchen Losar Feast and Chakrasamvara Ganachakra. It certainly seemed like a great feast was in store for all.

At 7:30pm the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa took his seat on a low throne on the stage with a medium-sized Buddha statue behind and above him. Stage decorations consisted of a Losar chema arrangement to his right and a large ram’s head and another Losar chema arrangement to his left. The chema arrangements consist of ornate wooden boxes heaped with tsampa (roasted barley flour); fresh stalks of barley, wheat, and other grains; and butter sculpture offerings Read the rest of this article

The Second Day of Losar: The Great Seating Ceremony


28 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
On the second day of Losar, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa acknowledged all those who share the responsibility, happiness and burden of his Office of Administration, the Tsurphu Labrang, and those who work in organising the extensive Kagyu Monlam. This ceremony, known also as the Row Ceremony because everyone is seated in rows in front of the Karmapa, was a part of the Tsurphu Monastery Losar tradition. It was a blend of a lavish Tibetan style banquet and a carefully executed monastic ceremony.

On the screen, the sky with rushing clouds covered the main wall, creating an impression that this great gathering was being held under the open skies of Tibet and a huge white decorated ram’s head placed in the center, signified auspiciousness for the next year.

The decoration of the Pavilion was much Read the rest of this article

The Year of the Female Fire Bird Takes Flight


26 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

For the Gyalwang Karmapa, the Tibetan New Year began in the first hours of the day, as he met in the Tergar Monastery shrine hall with tulkus, khenpos, and masters from various monasteries and received their khatas. In return he gave them his blessing and a traditional bright red cord. The monks recited prayers for peace in the world and the flourishing of the teachings as well as the very long life of the Karmapa. Afterward the entire monastic and lay Sangha gathered at 4:30 am in the Monlam Pavilion for a special long-life practice based on the Three Roots Combined, called A Life-Force Indestructible like a Vajra. The practice was led by the Karmapa’s heart son, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who had bestowed this empowerment the previous day.

In February of 2016 the Karmapa had also given Read the rest of this article