Offerings to the Protectors - Special Mahakala Practice and Torma Offerings
Monlam Pavilion at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
January 4, 2014
From the 2nd to the 4th of January, the monks and nuns have gathered in the Pavilion for three lengthy evenings of Mahakala practices, which were suggested by Situ Rinpoche, perhaps because they function to remove a wide variety of obstacles. One practice was the middle-length ceremony known as The Vermillion One, part of the four texts published in an elegant volume for the Monlam this year. The other practice was The One Hundred Thousand Feast Offerings, during which one hundred thousand each of tsok (feast offering), balingta (special food offering), and martor (red torma) are given.
From early in the morning until late in the day, sixty-two monks and nuns have been making these offerings. They sat in a special section of the kitchen around a long L-shaped tables with large bowls of tsampa (roasted barley flour) to make the balls of the tsok which will be sprinkled with nectar and given to the poor in Bodhgaya; the thumb-print balingta, which is meant to resemble the vertebrae of a negative spirit that was subdued; and the obelisk shape of the martor which is offered in order to eliminate obstacle makers.
These offerings have been placed at the base of the main Mahakala tormas on the shrine, which stretches across the center of the Pavilion stage. Dominating the middle of the shrine is the large Mahakala torma, deep red with large multi-petaled flowers. To its right is the offering of the five senses and to the left, the tradition white and red tormas. Ornate, filigree bowls hold other offerings, so that the whole front of the Pavilion stage is a filled with gifts to be offered to the protectors. The aspiration that accompanies them is for the removal of all obstacles for the teachings, for those who hold and practice them and for well-being and peace in the world.