Dharamshala: This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama was offered prayers for his long life by students, staff and former students of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, as well as members of Sera Jé Hardong Khangtsen, the Tibetan Chamber of Commerce and the Lha Ngam Phun Sum (Lhatse Dzong, Ngamring Dzong and Phuntsoling Dzong) regional organization.
The peaks of the Dhauladhar mountains shone against the empty blue sky as His Holiness drove through the gate to his residence and into the temple courtyard. A group of Tibetan women sang to him in greeting. As he disembarked from the golf-cart he was offered the traditionally welcoming ‘Chema Changphu’. He took a pinch of one and a taste of the other.
As he walked to the lift and then, as he made his way round the temples, His Holiness’s face was full of joy as he waved to members of the crowd, both those close by as well as others further away. Inside the temple he touched brows in mutual respect with the Ganden Tri Rinpoché. As His Holiness took his seat the congregation bowed in homage.
The ceremony, which began with the recitation of a praise to the Buddha, was presided over by Ganden Tri Rinpoché and Kewtsang Rinpoché. They were joined in the front row by Lamas belonging to several other Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Among the guests were Tagtsag Kundelling Rinpoché, Guru Tulku Rinpoché, Lochen Rinpoché and the acting head of the Jonang tradition.
Next came a recitation of ‘Clouds of Ambrosial Blessings’, Trulshik Rinpoché’s invocation of the series of incarnations of Avalokiteshvara in Tibet.
Today’s proceedings followed the ‘Long-Life Ceremony of White Tara of the Wish-Fulfilling Wheel’ by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. They were the culmination of seven days preparation during which monks recited prayers and repeated mantras to bless the symbolic substances that would be offered. The text included repeated offerings and requests that the ‘life of our glorious, sacred Lama’ be prolonged.
At a certain point Ganden Tri Rinpoché came forward to present His Holiness with the long-life wand. Then, longevity mantras were recited and a food offering in the form of a large ritual cake was presented to His Holiness, who took a token portion.
A ‘Prayer to the Dharma Protectors of Tibet’, composed by His Holiness, was recited. This was followed by an elaborate mandala offering which Ganden Tri Rinpoché presented with a formal request to His Holiness to live long.
Next were offered representations of the body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas, the vase, the symbols [of the Buddhas] of the five noble families, long-life nectar and pills, the seven royal emblems, the eight auspicious symbols, the eight auspicious substances, and so forth. As this was going on, a long procession of people belonging to the four patron organizations passed through the temple carrying a large array of gifts and offerings.
While the prayer for His Holiness’s long life composed by his two tutors Kyabjé Ling Rinpoché and Kyabjé Trijang Rinpoché was recited, representatives of the four patron organizations approached the throne to pay their respects. His Holiness gave each a white silk scarf and a red protection ribbon, often accompanied by an affectionate pat on the head.
After the chanting of a prayer for His Holiness’s long life by Jamyang Khyentsé Chökyi Lodrö, Kewtsang Rinpoché presented a final mandala offering to His Holiness in gratitude for his having accepted today’s prayer for his long life.
During the recitation of a prayer for the ecumenical spread of the Buddha’s teachings, the ‘tsog’, the heap of food that had been consecrated as part of the ceremony, was distributed among the congregation.
Proceedings concluded with the chanting of the ‘Prayer of the Words of Truth’, prayers for auspiciousness and verses of dedication. His Holiness emerged from the temple smiling and waving to jubilant friends and well-wishes as he walked down the side of the temple to the lift, and then, on the level of the courtyard, to the golf-cart that would carry him home.