February 13, 2015
The stupa is peaceful on this clear midmorning. Light falls through the Bodhi Tree, glancing off its shiny leaves and weaving its way through the spread of the ancient branches. Beneath its canopy Thai pilgrims, all dressed in white, follow ocher-robed monks around the stupa, the call and response of their chanting reverberating off the carved stone walls. A few seasoned pilgrims have gathered along the path, having noticed that a red carpet has been laid from the main gate, its triple arch covered in rose buds, down the wide flight of steps, along the marble path and into the temple; another red carpet circles the entire inner circumambulation path; and on the far side, the low stone lotus flowers marking the path of the Buddha have been overlaid with a thirty-foot strip of maroon silk, embroidered in a long row of gold lotuses.
Slightly after ten, the Gyalwang Karmapa appears at the head of the sacred precinct’s stairs and walks down the red carpet into the main temple to bow at the feet of the golden Buddha. He Read the rest of this article