22nd December – Bodhgaya.
Although its main activity is the Monlam festival, it also organises various charitable activities within the Bodhgaya area to coincide with the festival. These have included free medical camps, food for the poor, distribution of blankets and rice to the poor, and work to improve the environment.
Early morning at Tergar and the Monlam Pavilion
At 4.00 am promptly the wake-up gong resounded across the Garchen, followed shortly afterwards by a loud broadcast of the Gyalwang Karmapa chanting Milarepa’s aspiration prayer. The monks stirred and stumbled and coughed their way into the day.
Once more, a heavy mist lay over the land as ghostly people made their way to Mahayana Sojong at 6.00 am in the Monlam Pavilion. The morning temperature had fallen considerably and even inside the pavilion their breath misted in the cold air. From outside, the fog rolled in through its open sides. The fortunate ones among the monks and nuns were able to huddle into their dhagams— the heavy woollen cloak born of winters in Tibet—but the majority only wore regular robes and the yellow prayer robe. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche gave the Mahayana Sojong vows.
Gyalwang Karmapa’s activities
On the second day Gyalwang Karmapa attended the second session to continue his teaching on the Three Primary Elements of the Path. He then visited the VIP kitchen and the special lunch for gelong and gelongma [fully ordained monks and nuns] in the shrine room at Tergar. During the afternoon he gave private audiences.