Special Kagyu Monlam Day 8
5th February 2023
What might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing events of Kagyu Monlam - the Marme Monlam or the candle-light aspiration prayers - takes place at the very end, on the 8th day. It is a ritual of light where the participants each hold a candle in the darkness and sing auspicious prayers aspiring to dispel the darkness of ignorance.
This year the programme was simpler but still exhilarating for everyone present. It followed after the special address by His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and a long Five-Deity Tara ritual which was a unique event as it was newly compiled by His Holiness and performed for the very first time.
All the participants had been given a candle in a small clay pot. As is traditional two prayers were key to the programme. The Marme Monlam began with the Avalokiteshvara practice known as Benefitting Beings Throughout Space, considered by many to be the greatest method for receiving Avalokiteshvara’s blessings and developing compassion. This includes recitation of his famous mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, and establishes a pure motivation for the evening.
Then, the expansive interior of Bokar Shedra‘s shrine hall was completely darkened, and a myriad of small lights shed a soft glow on everyone present, with the brilliant Tara shrine radiating from the centre. This was the prelude to the heart of the celebration— Jowo Je Atisha’s Lamp Prayer. The large tv-screens that had been showing the Gyalwang Karmapa delivering a talk earlier, now displayed the scene in 2017 when the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over the Marme Monlam at the Monlam Pavilion in Bodhgaya. In the video, he is seated in front of a colossal golden statue of the Buddha, his hands in dhyana (meditation) mudra. As he recites Jowo Je Atisha’s Lamp Prayer part by part, everyone repeats the words. The first recitation is in Tibetan, the second in English and finally a third in Chinese, followed by the mantra “Om Vajra Aloke Ah Hum”.
Everyone in the shrine hall at Bokar Shedra joined in.
Led by the Karmapa, the congregation in the Pavilion in Bodhgaya then sing the prayer in Tibetan. This is followed by a rendering in Chinese and finally in English. Once more, the congregation at Bokar Shedra joined in as much as they could. They sang the Tibetan enthusiastically and joyfully, holding their lamps aloft in offering, and, if they were unable to join in the Chinese or English, they listened respectfully.
With the mantra “Karmapa Khyenno”, the Special Kagyu Monlam of 2023 was brought to a close in very high spirits.
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