Setting the Stage

(December 7, Bodhgaya)  For several weeks, His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa has been in residence in Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya, overseeing preparations for the grand event to inaugurate Karmapa 900. During that time what last year was a marshy stretch of unused earth adjacent to Tergar has become a magnificent space worthy of hosting the opening ceremony of this yearlong tribute to the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa.

Construction work has literally gone on around the clock, as anyone staying next door at Tergar Guesthouse can attest. With Venerable Chokyi Gyatso supervising, the stage grounds used last year for His Holiness’ play on the life of Milarepa were radically modified in anticipation of this year’s event.

The Gyalwang Karmapa’s close consultation on the stage design ensures that what the audience sees during the opening ceremony will be correspond as closely as possible to the glorious vision His Holiness himself had for this day when he first conceived of the event long ago.

For weeks, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa visited the stage nearly every day, to guide the preparations. Bag after bag of cement was poured and set. Box after box of custom-made musical instruments, banners, and costumes were delivered. His Holiness himself put the finishing touches on the gilding of the central Buddha image—and then walked the participants through two days of full dress rehearsals.

As the day of the opening ceremony drew near, disciples of the Karma Kagyu lineage began lining the entrance to Tergar Monastery evening after evening, holding khatas, as one by one the lineage’s highest lamas arrived for Karmapa 900. One afternoon, it was the “speaking statue” of Dusum Khyenpa that people lined up to receive with honors. As of today, December 7, the eve of the opening ceremony, Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and many other lamas have all arrived. The stage is set. The opening ceremony is about to begin.

Watch it live here.

Photo credit Lama Sam

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