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Gyalwang Karmapa visits the Nyingma Monastery

2 March, 2012



At just turned 11.00am His Holiness arrived at the Nyingma Monastery building complex, on the main road to Bodhgaya, a short distance from the turn-off to Tergar Monastery.

During Kagyu Monlam most of the monks and nuns are accommodated in dormitories here. The monastery is the site for a massive schedule of food preparation to feed the monks, nuns and laypeople attending the Monlam.  Food from here is also taken to Tergar Monastery to feed the monks and volunteers there.   The man in charge, Karma Sherab, estimates that the kitchen is catering for 9000 people at lunchtime.  It also prepares an evening meal, though the numbers then are reduced because many of the sangha are keeping Mahayana Sojong during Monlam, at the request of His Holiness.

A staff of 181 Indians, Nepalis and Tibetans work at peeling, washing, and chopping vegetables, each day. The food is then cooked in huge aluminium pans, a metre across and two feet high, placed over pits of log fires. The serving area is divided by bamboo poles into four lines–two for monks, one for nuns and one for laypeople.

Today’s meal consisted of rice, dhal, glass noodle, spinach and vegetables, and the first thing Gyalwang Karmapa did was to sample it.  Sitting upstairs on a first-floor balcony, he surveyed the monks, nuns and laypeople milling around in the vast courtyard below as he tasted first the rice, then the spinach, some soup and the vegetable. Karma Sherab knelt beside him, explaining and answering his questions.

Gyalwang Karmapa then strode down the stairs and across the courtyard to the food preparation area, his entourage racing to keep up with him. He met briefly with the workers and inspected the fire pits. Then, for a few minutes, he lent a hand at the serving tables, ladling out glass noodles to astonished monks, before marching through the throng of queuing monks – a modern-day Moses parting a sea of amazed people–to visit one of the accommodation blocks.

Within a short twenty minutes, the visit was over, and His Holiness and entourage sped away back to Tergar, in a cloud of dust.


Report by Jo Gibson, photos taken by Karma Lecho, Filip Wolak, Liao Guo Ming




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