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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

Mahakala Puja Part Two: The Preliminaries for The Main Mahakala Practice

13 – 15 February, 2012

On the afternoon of February 13, after the Karmapa returned from the shrine room to his quarters, the sangha continued with the Mahakala ritual. Special to this day is the practice called “The Four Elements and Three Parts” (’Byung bzhi cha gsum), which removes obstacles for the practice of the next days. Pieces of roasted barley dough that bore the imprint of a hand were passed out to each participant. The dough was then rolled into a ball, flattened, and pressed to parts of the upper body that were ill. Divided into three, the pieces were returned to monks passing through the sangha with large containers. While the text of the practice was being chanted from two screens in front of the hall, the collected pieces were carried outside, and the direction in which they were placed had been determined by an astrologer.

On the evening of the thirteenth, the main shrine hall was transformed into a protector shrine dedicated to the practice of Mahakala. An imposing suit of medieval Read the rest of this article