Unseen by most of those who attend the Monlam, the Karmapa had worked into the early hours of the morning supervising preparations for the final day of Monlam prayers. Satisfied, that everything met his high standards, he had finally left the Monlam Pavilion at 2.00am.
When people arrived for Mahayana Sojong at 5.45am, the stage had been transformed yet again, into a multicultural, visually stunning celebration of the Buddhist Dharma, the Kagyu tradition and the Monlam itself.
The sixteen Chinese-style auspicious banners of the Arhats which had headed the Alms Procession the day before now lined the wings either side of the main stage, and the lowest tiers were brightened by bouquets of fresh flowers, huge chrysanthemum blooms in deep purples, whites and yellows. On the second tier, three low thrones had been placed, for the Gyalwang Karmapa and his two heart sons, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche. The rows of gelongs sitting on the steps had been reduced from three to two, and Read the rest of this article