Losar Tashi Delek from Lishu Institute, happiness and prosperity for the beginning of the new year! We started our new year preparations by attending traditional Gutor ceremonies in Za Mongyal Ling Monastery two days before new year, on Sunday 7th February. The Gutor rituals are for expelling all the negativities and obstacles. Despite the rainy and cold weather, we had a beautiful and heart-warming day with the residents of the monastery, five monks from Menri monastery and the local Bonpo community.
Gutor-ritual in Za Mongyal Yungdrung Ling
Gutor-rituaali Za Mongyal-luostarissa
In the early morning of the first day of Losar we recited prayers in the gompa with Geshe Thubten Negi and our teachers, Geshe Sherab Lodoe and Dr. Sangmo Yangri. With offerings and good wishes, we welcomed the New Year of the Fire Monkey 2143.
Landscape in Menri Monastery
On Friday 12th February, we headed to Menri Monastery which is situated about five hours drive from Lishu, in Dolanji. We were lucky to be part of many celebrations and rituals over the weekend. On Saturday 13th February, fifth day of Losar, there were celebrations for Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen´s birthday and also beginning of the Geshe graduation ceremonies. On Sunday, traditional Cham-dances were performed.
Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen is the founder of Menri Monastery and great revivalist of the Bon teachings. It is due to him that we have still so many teachings available in this time now. He is regarded as the second Buddha in Bon tradition and his birthday is one of the biggest celebrations over the year. We were blessed to be part of the celebrations, with so many people gathering together and making prayers for the Bon teachings to remain in this world for a long time to relief the sufferings of all beings.
Large thangka of Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen displayed in Menri
Before Geshe-ceremony in the gompa
Ponlop Rinpoche, Menri Shedrup Khenpo and Menri Geshes
Our teacher Sangmo Yangri with young nuns from Redna Menling Bon-nunnery
Hundreds of candles were lit on the evening of birthday of Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen
The yearly Cham –dances are displayed in Menri on the first Sunday of the New Year. The unique and rich colorful texture both in the costumes of the monks and the dances they perform is amazing to see every time. The dances start in the morning and go on until sunset, with few hours break. The dances bring out the traditional stories and characters of the tradition. There are deities with their steady and majestic movements, the delicate dances of the dakinis, protectors with their wild spinning and so much more. It seems like all of existence is displayed through the dances, sounds and sights.
Wild Deers at the steps of Menri Gompa
White wrathful dakini Sidpe Gyalmo, one of the six aspects (sigyal du drug)
Ma Gyud Cham dance according to Shen tradition
Ging, the skeleton-like character that is said to be seen sometimes at the time of death
Some of the 27 children of Sidpe Gyalmo
The Cham – dance day had a beautiful ending with a Zhang Zhung Shon traditional dance performed by Kinnauri people of Himalayan region. This dance comes all the way from the time of Buddha Tonpa Sherab Miwoche, and it is often performed as a welcoming auspicious dance.
Zhang Zhung Shon- dance
Refreshed and inspired by our visit to Menri, we came back to our daily studies in Lishu. Right now, with the studies of the Nine Ways of Bon, we are finishing the chapter on the 3rd vehicle, Thug Je Sempa (Mind Only School) and moving to 4th vehicle, Yungdrung Sempa (Middle Way School). Language studies progress little by little every week and Hagiography is moving to the last lines of the chapters of this trimester.
Time flies, we have crossed the midway of this second trimester already! Looking forward to our next weeks, the weather getting warmer day by day, changing from winter to spring.