1 Mani Rimdu Festival At Chiwang Monastery Mani Rimdu tells a story in dance. Ostensibly the dancers reenact the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. Yet hidden within this drama of cultural history, say many Sherpas, is the story of an individual's awakening. The dance festival is public performance, with only few participants playing formal roles in presence of Trulshig Rinpoche. 1. Trulshig Rinpoche, has settled in the main Solu valley of Nepal. All forms of Buddhism emphasize the importance of a teacher, someone who literally embodies the teaching of the Buddha and vitalizes the written word. Any monk may be called a lama, as indeed any layman who assumes certain religious responsibilities may. The title Rinpoche, which means precious one, is reserved for widely respected lamas. In Tibetan tul means illusion; shig means kill; hence, this teacher s name means precious destroyer of illusion. Ignorant are they who do not recognize the evanescence of worldly things and who tenaciously cleave to them as final realities;.ignorant are those who do not understand that there is no such thing as an ego-soul.. Buddhism, therefore, most emphatically maintains that...we must radically dispel this illusion, this ignorance, this root of evil and suffering in this life. -D. T. Suzuki (outline of Mahayana Buddhism)
2 2. Monks set down the palanquin that Trulshig Rinpoche, a Buddhist lama highly respected by Sherpas and Tibetans, can greet supplicants on the trail. Rinpoche, the former abbot of Rongbuk Monastery on the north side of Mount Everest, now resides in Nepal at Thupten Choling, to the south of Khumbu. 3. Stupa entrance to Chiwang Monastery view to the south, Solukhumbu Valley, Nepal.
3 4. Overview of Chiwang monastery from Ratnagiri. Chiwang Monastery is one of the satellite monastery linked to Rongbuk monastery. Rongbuk lies on the northern-side of Mt. Everest. It is there, Trulshig Rinpoche lived with thousands of monks and nuns before he had to flee due to Chinese invasion in 1959.Solukhumbu Valley, Nepal.
4 5. Sangye Lama, founder of Chiwang Monastery. He was educated with several others Sherpa monks in Drepung Monastery, Tibet, and had the great monastic chanting leader. He later came back upon his father s call and subsequently initiated and sponsored Chiwang Monastery B.S. Solukhumbu Valley, Nepal.
5 6. Trulshig Rinpoche sits on a small porch immediately outside the lha khang (alter). He overlooks the courtyard where the dances will take place. The perimeter of this courtyard has upper ad lower galleries for the spectators. 7. As the lama is welcomed in the main courtyard, a layman prepares offerings for the central alter. In pre-buddhist Tibet, people offered animal sacrifices. The Buddhist moral code prohibits killing, so substitute offering was devised - a dough cake made from toasted flour mixed with water, called torma (sometimes spelled gtor ma). They've wide variety of shapes and decorated with colors and several texts give details about the manufacture of not less than 108 different tormas. And the mystery play begins with the loud clashes of cymbals called rolmo.
6 8. Monks in the Chiwang monastery courtyard play double-reed instruments, called gyaling, to herald Trulshig Rimpoche's arrival. 9. Monks play long copper trumpets called zang dung that marks the beginning of the Mani Rimdu festival. The inscription reads, "May the glorious Lama live forever." What does this mean? Nobody actually believes that the corporeal form of the lama endures forever. Since the lama's life embodies the Buddha's teaching, his body is seen as a symbol of this doctrine. This principle has no beginning or end and therefore is everlasting. Sherpas do not consider it paradoxical that an object with finite duration, like the body, coincides with the infinite.
7 10. Monk beating traditional drum called gong, in the courtyard of Chiwang monastery during Mani Rimdu Festival.
8 11. A monk blows purifying essence offering to god.
9 12. Monks in the inner courtyard play long copper trumpets called 'zang dung' and clash cymbals called rolmo during Mani Rimdu festival in Chiwang Monastery, a gift of Trulshig Rimpoche, remains the most holy rituals to Sherpas and Tibetan. It is 2-3 weeks walking distance from Tibet. In 2006 Chiwang Monastery experienced of great revival for Trulshig Rimpoche donated 10 trained monks to train/educate the monk and nun community in Chiwang Monastery. 13. Tibetan and Sherpa pilgrims prostrating in the inner courtyard of Chiwang monastery. Solukhumbu, Nepal.
10 14. Denise Korotovskikh, an expert yogi from Russia. and Christoper Gericke making offerings to Trulshig Rimpoche during Mani Rimdu festival at Chiwang Monastery. Solukhumbu, Nepal 15. Sherpa pilgrims making offerings to Trulshig Rimpoche during Mani Rimdu festival at Chiwang Monastery. Solukhumbu, Nepal
11 16. Monks passing out sacred pills to the pilgrims during Mani Rimdu festival. 17. Monks passing out sacred pills to the pilgrims during Mani Rimdu festival.
12 18. Trulshig Rinpoche holds a black and red scarf, a ritual cloth to vanquish negativity. Tsanbola, his faithful attended, flanks him.
13 19. A solitary mask dancer appears wearing a frightening mask and silk brocade. They circle the courtyard with sprightly leaps. Called protectors of faith, or Dharmapdla, the origins of figures like these can be traced back to the pre-aryan peoples of India. Originally known as yaksas (literally, a wondrous thing), they were tree spirits, who were accepted by the Buddhists as defenders of the faith. In Nepal and Tibet, as in India, local deities were converted into protectors. A devotee of an alien sect devised a means to humiliate the Buddha and His disciples. The Buddha discovered it and succeeded in converting him to His Teaching. Due to lack of wisdom, the Buddha remarked, some could not realize the goodness of his disciples and He compared the ignorant to the blind and the wise to those who have eyes. Nobody is condemned in Buddhism, for greatness is latent even in the seemingly lowliest just as lotuses spring from muddy ponds. -The Dhammapada.
14 20. A Skeleton mask dancers. They circle the courtyard with sprightly leaps. Called protectors of faith, or Dharmapdla.
15 21. A solitary mask dancer appears wearing a frightening mask and silk brocade. Ditto 19.
16 22. Monks hold victory banner during the Mani Rimdu Festival. 23. When he officiates at the fire ceremony, Trulshig Rinpoche assumes the role of one who sacrifices without desire for repayment. Dressed as such a Bodhistava figure, he wears a crown decorated with painted images of Buddha representing five categories of wisdom, the Jinas.
17 24. These monks circumambulate the pyre after its ignition. One holds a long book wrapped in a felicitous scarf. The purifying fire takes the offering and raises them towards the sky in smoke. The circumambulatory ritual also recalls the way disciples showed respect for the Buddha's body.
18 25. These monks circumambulate the pyre after its ignition. One holds a long book wrapped in a felicitous scarf. The purifying fire takes the offering and raises them towards the sky in smoke. The circumambulatory ritual also recalls the way disciples showed respect for the Buddha's body.
19 26. Monks in the inner courtyard of Chiwang hold the Vajra on their right hand and bell with Vajra handle in left. The Vajra symbolizes the skillful exercise of wisdom, which in turn is represented by the bell. Wisdom is not a thing that one knows and then parrots on occasion. Instead, it is seen as an openness that uses the circumstances of the moment to determine its expression. Buddhism has few dogmas; it expresses itself like an idiom using the most appropriate terms-what is true now will not be true later. 27. Monks returning to main mandala alter after the departure of Trulshig Rinpoche, which marks the end of the festival.
20 28. All the festival attendees wear their finest traditional clothing and exquisite jewellery of amber and coral. In the dim light, a rare moment of quite begins as every one awaits the appearance of the star dancer to signify the firm establishment of he Buddha's teaching.
21 29. Fire is so imbued with the spirits of ritual that Sherpa wants to capture smoke or ashes for his merit during festival at Chiwang Monastery. Solukhumbu, Nepal.
22 30. Monks escorting Trulshig Rinpoche to his alter at the end of the Mani Rimdu festival. Solukhumbu, Nepal. 31. Zamling with the monks at Chiwang Monastery. He is the 4th generation of Sangye Lama, is heading the Chiwang Monastery community. Solukumbu, Nepal
23 32. Old nuns from Thupten Choling attending Mani Rimdu Festival at Chiwang Monastery. 33. Sherpa pilgrims from all over Tibet and Solukumbu visit Chiwang Monastery for Mani Rimdu Festival every year in winter.
24 34. Michael Schmidt, a fluent Tibetan Speaker, and an architect who rebuilt Tengboche Monastery after burnt down, stands alongside two nuns from Thupten Choling. He was chosen by Trulshig Rinpoche to enlarge Thupten Choling Monastery and expanding Buddhist monks and nuns community. Trulshig Rinpoche is one of the key person in the Rigmo sect. Michael & his wife Helen work together in scheme.
25 35. Thupten Choling prior to the completion of the new monastery. There are over 500 monks and nuns meditating in this retreat centre. Thupten Choling, Solukhumbu, Nepal. 36. The new monastery of Thupten Choling. When Trulshig Rimpoche came to Nepal, he reestablished his monastery among the Sherpas; local villagers helped his monk and nun followers build these new structures. Called Thupten Choling Goempa, its name means a place of the Buddha s doctrine. (Any monastery is called goempa in Tibetan; gom means solitary place.) About 500 monks and nuns practice here. Thupten Choling, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
26 37. Birch and pine wood walk enroute to Junbesi Village. The area has majestic pine forest. Solukhumbu, Nepal
27 38. Buddhist mani wall with stone carving showing padma, a lotus. Jumbesi village, Solukhumbu, Nepal
28 39. Newly constructed Thupten Choling monastery gives ample space for large community and monastic prayer. The monastery receives all manner of offerings from a widely scattered group of people. It serves a social function by distributing to the needy much of the food and clothing that it receives. Thupten Choling, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
29 40. Nuns cooking rice for five hundred monks and nuns living in Thupten Choling. Solukhumbu, Nepal.
30 41. Nuns and monks taking in fresh air during break after afternoon ritual. Newly constructed building for monastery can be seen in the background with green roof. Thupten Choling, Solukhumbu, Nepal. 42. Newly constructed monastery gives ample space for large community and monastic prayer. Thupten Choling, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
31 43. Jumbesi stupa in Jumbesi village. Solukhumbu, Nepal 44. Jumbesi cradle of Sherpa culture, first village founded by Sherpa after they left Kham during Chinese Invasion. Junbesi village, Solukhumbu, Nepal
32 45. Many Buddhist chortens adorn the trails in Solukhumbu. Those trails are the traditional yak route to Tibet. Traders usually choose to walk bridge route instead of notorious route below the trail. Solukhumbu, Nepal 46. Laser like light illuminates Sherpa kitchen. Phaplu, Solukhumbu, Nepal.
33 47. Recently restored Lama Tenzing's house in traditional style of 18th century Sherpa architecture, shows dry stone wall, wooden columns and window with slate skirting. Lama Tenzing a village lama of Jumbesi, Solukhumbu, Nepal
34 48. Much revered doctor, Mingma Sherpa established the hospital along with a maternity ward for the inhabitants of the Solukhumbu region. Dr.Mingma, chief doctor for 25 years at the Himalayan Trust Hospital in Phaplu. 25 years of experience holder is the first Sherpa doctor in Solukhumbu. He was born in a small village, Pheera, 5 km north of Phaplu, he was handpicked & groomed by Sir Edmund Hillary. 49. Captain Dawa Gyaltsen Sherpa, brother of Dr. Mingma one of the most experienced helicopter pilot of Himalayas. He pilots a Dynasty helicopter enroute to Trulshig Rimpoche and takes him to Chiwang Monastery. Solukhumbu, Nepal.
35 50. Last surviving hand paintings in Sherpa of early 20th century, painted in Chiwang, Lha Khang (alter). Adi Buddha Samantabhadra with his consort. Tantric Embrace. The Spiritual Art of Love Tantric Deities in Ecstatic Union, thangkha painting. The function of Tantra is to transform all pleasure into the transcendental experience of deep penetrative awareness. Instead of advocating separation from worldly pleasures Tantra channels the energy of enjoyment into a quick and powerful path to fulfillment and enlightment. This is the most skillful way of using our precious human potential. - Lama Yeshe 51. Fireplace at Hotel Del Sherpa s spacious main room with Buddhist deities. The whole spacious ground floor is traditional Sherpa style hand painted in late 70 s. Solukhumbu, Nepal.
36 52. Sherpa villagers from Jumbesi prepare fields for wheat planting. Solukhumbu, Nepal
37 53. Junbesi village woman winnows white beans a staple food in Junbesi village. In the background is one of the oldest house representing Sherpa architecture of late 17th century and early 18th century. Ground floor is used for animals keeping whereas top floor for living. Junbesi village, Solukhumbu, Nepal. 54. First Buddhist monastery established in Jumbesi in And now the subject for renovation. Solukhumbu, Nepal
38 56. Numbur Himal, stands meters high with Tashi Palchin, is gateway to Tibet. Peak s ice topped view from Phaplu, with most spectacular one hundred and eight lakes below, of them Dhudkunda (Dudh= milk, kunda= lake) is the largest. 57. In Phaplu there are several horses, which can be hired as comfortable trek animals. Horses graze atop Ratna Giri with Mt. Everest in background.
39 58. Sun circle appears with the departure of Trulshig Rinpoche from Phalpu.
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