The Gyalwang Karmapa dines out with Kagyu Monlam members
Mahayana Hotel, Bodhgaya
December 26, 2012
After the Monlam’s second session at the Mahabodhi stupa today, the Gyalwang Karmapa surprised Kagyu Monlam members by joining them for lunch in the dining hall of the Mahayana Hotel. The Karmapa’s entourage arrived at the hotel quietly and he was greeted with a kata by the hotel’s Tibetan manager Tinley-la. Then he was escorted into the hall by his sister Chamsing-la and Lama Chodrak. He quickly went to the front of the dining room where many trays of steaming food were heaped in an expansive buffet. He looked at the choices and gave his blessing. Then he was offered a monk’s bowl and proceeded to serve himself from the trays. A rectangular table had been set for him in an alcove of the dining room affording a semi-private place for him to sit. For a while he sat alone at the table adorned with a fruit basket, a large beet and carrot salad, and a small vase of flowers. He ate with chopsticks and was eventually joined by Chamsing-la and Lama Chodrak as they strolled up with their plates of food.
As the members streamed in and served themselves, the tables around the Karmapa gradually filled up. Some were surprised as they walked by the table and saw the Karmapa sitting, because they hadn’t known that he was there. But even if some of the members got flustered, the Karmapa seemed naturally at ease and unhurried. After taking a few symbolic bites of his meal, he helped himself to a raw slice of beetroot from the salad bowl, followed by a few grapes. Occasionally he chatted with his sister.
The Mahayana Hotel’s restaurant has been serving the Kagyu Monlam members three meals a day since Monlam began on December 21st. Though the line is long, it moves quickly and the vegetarian food is tasty, healthy and filling. After about a half hour, the Karmapa and his party rose and made their way out of the dining room to their cars. Once the Karmapa left the dining room, the noise level increased abruptly as the diners shared their feelings of glee and good fortune at being unexpectedly blessed with the Karmapa’s presence at lunchtime.