Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, 22nd December


Mahabodhi Temple: Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche gave the Sojong Vows. Gyalwang Karmapa attended the sessions before and immediately after lunch.

Press Conference: At 11.30am Gyalwang Karmapa held a press conference on the 25th International Kagyu Monlam at Tergar Monastery. Twenty eight reporters, photographers and film crew, representing fourteen different agencies and seven countries, attended the conference. They received a pack of information about the Kagyu Monlam in either English or Chinese. Gyalwang Karmapa welcomed them and extended prayers and good wishes to all on behalf of Kagyu Monlam.
Medical Camp: This was the second day that the free camp staffed by Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps was held in the village of Vinobapuri. The camp was set up in a local private school. On the first day 731 patients arrived. On the second day there were 826, and when the clinic finally closed in the evening, there were still about two hundred patients who had not been seen. Most of the patients were women and children; there were very few old people. Many of the children were suffering from conditions such as clubfoot and hernia which could easily be corrected by surgery. Many had distended bellies and bleached hair, both signs of malnutrition. Coughs, colds, earache and worms were the most common complaints, and there were probable cases of tuberculosis. Sadly, several of the children had been severely disabled by polio. India has a major nationwide polio immunization drive each year, but it hasn't yet reached Vinobapuri.
After a hard day working at the camp, the volunteers came to Tergar Monastery to have a group photo taken with Gyalwang Karmapa in the Great Hall. There was some confusion and much laughter when they were ordered to say "cheese" by one of the photographers!
Rehearsals for the Marme Monlam: This year's Marme Monlam will be even more elaborate than before. Candles have been replaced by electric lights, and the sangha will be issued with special lotus- shaped lights which change through pink, blue, green. The driving force behind these changes is Gyalwang Karmapa, and at 8.00pm he came down to the Main Hall of Tergar Monastery, where the gelongs and gelongmas had assembled, and personally conducted a rehearsal. First, the new lotus lamp lights were distributed and everyone had to practise a synchronized switching on and off. Then groups representing the different languages - Tibetan, English, Chinese and Korean - performed their set pieces, which they will sing during the Marme Monlam on Monday. Finally, everyone practised the Marme Monlam Prayer to a new melody composed by His Holiness.

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