Sublime Offerings to Guru Rinpoche: The Tsechu Tormas and Altar
January 5, 2014
Below the magnificent thangka of Guru Rinpoche which towers above the Monlam Pavilion stage, a three-tiered altar runs the width of the thangka. Placed on the altar's top tier and visually joining the image of Guru Rinpoche above it with Karmapa's throne below, is the immense nine-foot Guru torma (sculpted offering), rising up from four tiers decorated with rows of blazing jewels. These four layers support two massive, inverted cones and a final torma, its triangular finial decorated with fully blossomed flowers. The giant torma stands in front of a brocade rectangle at the base of the thangka, where four pairs of swirling dragons seem ready to spring off into space.
On the torma's right are the three red obelisks of the Maning tormas (a form of Mahakala), decorated with lush flowers; on the torma's left are the two large Shingkyong tormas surrounded by their retinue of ten. A large section of the practices to be done and one of the lama dances are devoted to this pair of male and female wisdom protectors, who guard Amitabha's pure land.
To the left of the Shingkyong are the torma of the guardian Chedo and his retinue of twelve. A more worldly figure, he is important for the Nyingma tradition.
Finally, directly before the main torma of Guru Rinpoche is a torma for the Mamos. Its shape looks very much like a woman wearing a long skirt, an image in tune with the female spirits to whom the torma is offered.