Cham Dance 4

Newsletter March 2013

March 10, 2013

Dear Students and Friends,

Here I want to tell you about our Losar activities at Menri Monastery and the traditional Tibetan system.

418782_391898144251073_809054908_nAt the end of January we did Jin Sig (Hom in Sanskrit), a puja that comes from Takla Mebar (Tiger yidam). This is a five day puja we did in the Yogi Temple with all the monks. This ritual is a Dokpa, which is for cleansing obstacles and negativity.

It is a really powerful puja, not often done. We have only done this puja two times in 45 years at Menri Monastery in India.

It is a very secret ritual. It takes a long time to prepare. We make many papers with mantras and symbols, and cloth banners which are then burned at the end of the ritual.

During the ritual we make one hundred thousand tsok (offering cakes), and recite several mantras 100,000 times each.

On the fifth day, which was January 31, 2013 we did a fire puja at night. In the fire we put more than 15 kilograms of vegetable oil and 7 liters of alcohol to make a very hot fire. We burned Linga, which are papers with symbols we use to take away negativity.

We mix tsampa (roasted barley flour) with butter and throw into the fire. This is also for cleansing obstacles and negativity.

In Dolpo we do various kinds of Dokpa in people’s houses.

At the end of every year Lunar year we do different kinds of pujas for cleansing obstacles and negativity and preparing for good life for all beings and for world peace.

Before Losar, for five days from February 5th through 9th we did Gutor, which is another Dokpa that we do every year at Menri Monastery. Gu means nine, Tor means Torma. This always finishes two days before the first of the New Year. At the end we give blessing water to all monks, nuns, children, and local people. At the end of Gutor 556886_391895880917966_1236479390_nwe take down the big prayer flag in front of the main temple for four days.

On the second to the last day of the year all Tibetans clean their house and repay all debts, and in the evening they make Gutuk (soup with nine ingredients – meat, wheat, barley, rice, cheese, corn, troma, a root vegetable from the Himalaya, salt, water). We also send ransom, which is torma shaped like a human body which we use to send away all negativity.

On the last day of the year we decorate our houses with fresh curtains and cloth and decorate for the New Year with many offerings. We also make Kopse, which are deep fried bread strips. On the last day many people don’t sleep because they are busy preparing for Losar, and children stay up all night playing. Monks stay up all night enjoying.

Lamas on LosarThen we had Losar, the first day of the year. It is on the new moon of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. This year it was February 11th. Early morning started around 1am when people make offerings at their altar and bathe in fresh spring water, and use the fresh spring water to fill their water bowls. People try to be the first to get to the spring and offer a khata there. This means the first new year water is auspicious. After midnight when you see people, even your family members, you say Tashi Delek. Then they go to see the lama and temple to receive a blessing.

Then the monastery offers breakfast to the monks who gather in the temple to pray.

After breakfast all monks, nuns, children, and local people come to the hill above the monastery to offer Sang, which is an offering to the deities, for world peace. Many local people put new prayer flags up there on the hill.

On the first day people usually don’t go to another house. You just stay inside your own house. Otherwise the first day is spent very quiet.

420114_391897430917811_170178478_nOn February 14th and 15th the monks did a two day puja to commemorate the birthday of the founder and first abbot of Menri Monastery, Nyamed Sherab Gyaltsen.

On the 15th we put up a new prayer flag in front of the main temple. When the flag is down the rules for monks are relaxed a little bit, but then the rules come back with the new prayer flag.

On Sunday February 17th we had a one day Cham Dance festival, and offered tea and lunch to all people who attended. This year we gave lunch to nearly 2,500 people.cham dance 9

On February 23rd and 24th we did a two day puja to commemorate the birthday of Tonpa Shenrab, who was born on the 15th day, or full moon, of the first month. In the evening all people did circumambulation with prayer and mantra, and lit many candles around the monastery.

On March 2nd and 3rd we did a two day puja for Ma Gyud, or Mother Tantra.

Starting March 4th we do an annual seven day retreat for Sherab Mawe Senge, the Buddha known as Lion of Speech, also known as Wisdom Buddha. This is to support the monks studying in the Dialectic School.

I am praying for you all to have a happy life and great practice. I will be coming to America later this year and I hope to see you all!

With best wishes, Menri Ponlob