The Great Sakya Mon Lam Aspirational Prayer Festival, held annually in Lumbini, Nepal, near the site of Shakyamuni Buddha's birthplace, was the setting this year for a truly magnificent Golden Jubilee Celebration of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin's enthronement.
International Attendees. Devotees of His Holiness came from North, South and Central America, Eastern and Western Europe, Northern and Southern Asia,
as well as
to revitalize their Bodhisattva aspirations and to celebrate this historic milestone - the longest reign of any Sakya Throneholder. His Holiness, the 41st Throneholder's 50 years of dedicated and inspiring service to the Dharma elicited the enthusiastic and joyful recognition of the multitudes who came to share in the blessings of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
Teachings on the Environment and World Peace. During the two days preceding the official celebration of his 50 years as Sakya Throneholder, His Holiness offered teachings to a large group of Sangha members and lay disciples, seated on the grass of the lovely peaceful garden surrounding the Mayadevi temple, at the place of the Buddha's birth and a few steps from the Ashoka pillar which commemorates this important historical event. The topic of the first day's teaching was our interdependence with our environment, and the necessity of our creating the causes for a healthful and sustaining world for all. The second day's teaching concerned World Peace, and its foundation in the transforming power of our gradually developed individual spiritual practices of loving kindness and compassion.
Ceremonial Procession. On the morning of November 25th, the road to Tashi Rabten Ling Temple, the ceremonial centre of the Mon Lam and Golden Jubilee activities, was thronged with joyful crowds, lined up between the long row of decorated gates. They assembled early in the morning of His Holiness' Golden Jubilee Celebration Day, waving flags and jostling for the best viewing positions. The procession exceeded all expectations of grandeur, with a variety of exotically dressed groups of indigenous people bearing offerings, monks bearing banners and umbrellas, musicians, masked dancers, singers, and after the cars carrying His Holiness' party, a group of beautifully saddled horses and two elephants. The crowd was so close that it was possible for them to touch the elephants as they passed, before everyone rushed to enter the gates of the temple in a joyful human torrent.
Mandala Offerings. All morning at Tashi Rabten Ling the mandala offerings and processions of respectful lay and Sangha groups and individuals representing His Holiness' temples, monasteries, colleges, and Dharma Centres all over the world continued, while everyone present offered homage and prayers for the long life of His Holiness. His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche made the detailed explaination of the mandala offering to His Holiness, which His Holiness accepted, giving advice and blessings to the joyful assembly. His Holiness noted that although the Sakya school is not the largest nor the most prosperous, he could say that through the efforts of the lineage and blessings of the teachers and Buddhas, we are able to say that we have re-established the Sakya tradition in exile and have done so without the "sound of bees" (disharmony) and we can feel joy in that.
Speeches and Entertainment under the Pavilion. The afternoon and evening events took place in an enormous specially constructed pavilion near the Buddha's birthplace, featuring speeches by distinguished lay and Sangha leaders, delightful entertainment by dancers, singers and musicians and flower offerings by representatives of twenty-two different countries present for the festivities, all in a mood of joyfully relaxed celebration. Over 5,000 people participated, including dignitaries from the Ministery of Reliious Affairs and Chair of the Parliment.
A Message from His Holiness the Dalia Lama. A message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama was presented, saying that His Holiness the Sakya Trizin was the King of Mantra Dharma and as a result of his commitment, the quality of monks and nuns was now well-established outside of Tibet and asking that His Holiness Sakya Trizin continue all his activities on benefit of all beings. The letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama continued by noting that the contribution of Sakya Pandita was unforgetable, specificially relating the story of the conversion of Kodan Khan by the Lord of Dharma Sakya Pandita and the resulting benefit to the Tibetan people which lasted until exile in 1959.
Long Life Blessing for the Disciples. On the following day, November 26th, disciples from all over the world gratefully received a long-life blessing from His Holiness, a day-long event which His Holiness performed tirelessly, generously and graciously.
Offerings to His Holiness Dachen Rinpoche. By special arrangement of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, a mandala offering day and processions to honour His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche were conducted on November 27th, with enthusiasm and devotion, in tribute to the revered leader of the Phuntsok Phodrang. In brief remarks, His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche said he felt tremendous joy and expressed two wishes: one, for the long life and success of all the activities of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and two, for the long life and fulfillment of all the wishes of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin.
For everyone who was able to attend this magnificent and auspicious series of events, there were many more Sakya devotees who were there in spirit, rejoicing in the merits of their representatives there, and adding their prayers to those that were offered in Lumbini.
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