KALMYKIA: On 6 July, Kalmykia, along with many other Buddhist countries and regions celebrated an outstanding event – 82nd birthday of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.
Celebration started in the early morning at the Main temple (Khurul) of Kalmykia “Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni”. A bright and hot sun shone in a cloudless blue sky – it seemed like the weather and nature itself was rejoicing in this auspicious occasion. By 8 am, devotees and well-wishers gathered at the territory of the Main temple to take part in ritual Sangsol that was held by monks of the temple headed by its Abbot Geshe Mutul.
After Sangsol ritual the gathering moved to the prayer hall where a grand celebratory prayer was arranged. It began with the ceremony of taking the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from His Holiness’s residence on the 5th floor of the temple and placing it on a throne so that monks and lay people could pay their respects.
Before the prayer started, one of the monks delivered greetings of the Shadjin (Head) Lama of Kalmykia Telo Tulku Rinpoche to the audience: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, today is the 82nd Birthday of our beloved spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV. We celebrate this occasion with sincere prayers for the long life and good health of His Holiness.
Despite his age, His Holiness continues to travel the world to promote human values such as love, kindness and compassion, which is his first commitment. His second commitment is to promote interreligious harmony and dialogue and thirdly to be a spokesperson of the Tibet issue.
We have been very fortunate to reestablish our historical ties with His Holiness since his first visit to Kalmykia in 1991 followed by visits in 1992 and 2004. Because of His Holiness’s blessings and prayers, the Buddha Dharma has flourished and grown in Kalmykia beyond our expectations. We are grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his continuous attention, care and guidance.
We are fortunate to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama with us in an era of conflict and difficult times. His Holiness does not only give us Buddhist hope, but also gives all walks of life a sense of unity, belonging and, most of all, love which is lacking in today’s world.
On behalf of all people of Kalmykia and Russia may I wish His Holiness the Dalai Lama a very long life, prosperity and good health. May His Holiness be with us always and we convey as an offering as well as a birthday present our commitment and encouragement for all to be warm hearted human beings”.
The prayer was attended by the Head of Kalmykia Alexey Orlov who also addressed the gathering: “Dear fellow countrymen! Today we have a great day and great holiday. We celebrate the birthday of our spiritual father, leader, our Teacher, great Dalai Lama XIV. Today our hearts are filled with wonderful feelings.
The history of our people and our ancient traditions are closely connected with the institute of Dalai Lamas, great masters of the past and present who used to teach and continue teaching to be kind, peace-loving and open-minded. Today these masters are physically not with us but spiritually they are here and they bless our good deeds, make our lives more beautiful.
Today we join the feeling of joy and happiness with millions of our fellow believers as well as everybody who share the outlook of our spiritual leader – ideas of humanity peace, interreligious and international dialogue regardless of what religion and nationality they belong to. For many years this has been the mission of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso.
His Holiness is the true leader and teacher, protector of faith, holder of Buddhist teaching. His visits to our republic have become the most important events in the modern history of Kalmykia and helped us step on the path of spiritual development.
We are proud that our great spiritual leaders have been having and still have special and kind relations with Kalmykia. We are proud that our temple is a place where we keep a relic – monastic robe – that was presented personally by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.
From the bottom of my heart I would like to congratulate all people of Kalmykia regardless of their ethnicity and religion. I wish all of you and our common home peace and kindness, happiness and prosperity.
And of course I convey my sincere birthday wishes of good health and long life to our great spiritual Teacher His Holiness the Dalai Lama! Happy holiday to all!”
When monks finished the prayer all believers were treated with traditional Kalmyk tea and bortsogs (national bakery). Rituals and prayers were held in all temples (khuruls) in various regions of Kalmykia.
In the afternoon Kalmyk society ‘Friends of Tibet’ and Main temple of Kalmykia organized the Russian premiere of a documentary by Mickey Lemle “The Last Dalai Lama?” in Elista. The event was arranged with the support of Tibetan Culture & Information Center (Moscow) and Save Tibet Foundation (Moscow). The documentary was presented in the center of Elista town at the oldest movie theater “Rodina” (“Motherland”).
The premier was opened by introductory word of Sanal-gelong (Tenzin Norzang), monk of the Main temple, and Ms. Antonina Kookueva, chairperson of the Kalmyk society ‘Friends of Tibet’. There was a full house of devotees of various ages: children, young and elderly people who gathered in the atmosphere of joy and unity as if it was a real meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Many people were paying their respects when they saw His Holiness on the screen during the film show that attracted genuine interest of well-wishers.
In the evening, after the premiere of “The Last Dalai Lama?” documentary, local people were invited to a concert where Kalmyk masters of the arts performed for the public. The concert brought together representatives of Buddhist, Orthodox and Muslim religions, several ethnic diasporas such as Tibetan, Chechen, Kazakh, Dagestani, Armenian and Azerbaijani. Along with Kalmyk national dances and songs, guests could see and hear national Russian, Mongolian, Indian as well as modern dances and songs. The event was organized by the Administration of Elista town and the Main temple of Kalmykia as a true celebration of friendship, understanding and harmony for the sake of long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
When the concert was over, a sweet treat and birthday cakes were ordered for people by monks of the Main temple, Buddhist center “Tilopa”, Tibetan community of Kalmykia and sponsors. Monks recited special prayers to bless the cake, after which they were cut and given to everybody in joy.
Monks of the Main temple took care of people who could not physically join the event – in the afternoon of 6 July volunteers of the temple took cakes with total weight of around 50 kilograms to four local institutions: Republican specialized nursing home for elderly and disabled people with department for social rehabilitation of people without permanent residence” in Troitskoe village (37 people); Children-teenager department of Antituberculosis dispensary of Kalmykia (21 children); Elista nursing home for mentally challenged children (61 children) and Nursing home for elderly and disabled people of Elista (150 people). Thus mentally and physically disabled people also could feel the atmosphere of holiday, share the happiness and convey their best wishes and prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Thanks to the loving kindness and wisdom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, thanks to the thoughtful guidance and care of the Shadjin Lama of Kalmykia Telo Tulku Rinpoche and monks of the Main temple hundreds of people in Kalmykia could rejoice together and make a commitment to be warm-hearted human beings and do good for the sake of long life and good health of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
-Report filed by Office of Tibet, Moscow-