Gyalwang Karmapa Blesses the Site for the New Monlam Kitchen
Monlam Pavilion Grounds, Bodhgaya,
26 January, 2015
The Gyalwang Karmapa assisted by a small entourage of Drupon Rinpoche Yangsi, Geshe Rinchen Ngodup, Khenpos and the ritual master performed a short sa-lung ritual in the huge Monlam kitchen area.
For several years now, all meals for the thousands of monks and nuns attending the Kagyu Monlam have been prepared and served in this massive tented bamboo structure. Each year it has to be erected before Monlam starts and dismantled afterwards, so the hope is that in the future it may be replaced by a permanent structure.
Tibetans believe that the earth is sacred and not just theirs to use as they choose, so a sa-lung ritual, comprising offerings and prayers, is performed to request permission from the earth goddess and the local deities and spirits who dwell on the land, before any development can take place.
A small altar had been set up, with two sets of traditional offerings−water for drinking, water for foot-washing, flowers, incense, light, scented water, food represented by two large white tormas, and music. One set was for the earth goddess and one for the local deities and spirits. In front of these two rows stood a special square-based white torma, with three discs, and a long-stemmed ritual cup containing tea and biscuits. These were the offerings for the earth goddess.
During the first part of the ritual, after prayers had been recited, the white torma and the goblet were carried outside into the nearby field by the ritual master, and offered to the earth goddess. Next offerings were made to the local deities: the Gyalwang Karmapa offered incense and the ritual master refilled the cup and returned outside to offer a libation of hot tea to the ‘owners of the land’ A third libation was made to the spirits.
In the second part of the ritual, the Gyalwang Karmapa circumambulated the symbolic centre of the land -a small square of earth which had been cleared in preparation –in a clockwise direction, blessing the area with scattered rice. He then enlisted the help of Drupon Rinpoche, handing him a mattock, to perform the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony. A wooden post, supported by bricks, was erected in the centre of the square, and the Karmapa wrapped a katag around it, before leading dedication prayers for auspiciousness.
The ceremony concluded and it was time for tea and Indian sweets to celebrate.