The Grand Sacred Celebration of Guru Padmasambhava at Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat which took place on the 10th day of the 10th month in the Fire Monkey Year coincided with the first visit of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje after nearly seventeen years since His Holiness arrived to India.
The long awaiting hope of Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa and the Sangha of Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat for the Karmapa to visit was finally fulfilled by the blessing of His Holiness the Dalia Lama, Government of India and the administration of Tibetan Government-in-Exile at Dharamsala.
Day 1: 8 December 2016
On the 8th of December, the first welcoming party headed by Very Venerable Gyalton Rinpoche arrived at Gyuto Monastery to escort His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and his entourage to Palpung Sherabling.
The second welcoming party headed by Venerable Pongri Tulku welcomed His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa in Baijnath and joined His Holiness and the entourage en route to Palpung Sherabling.
The main reception at Palpung Sherabling Monastic Institution was designed to be the traditional welcome ceremony with all elaborate and auspicious decorations. Upon the arrival of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa received him at the main gate. They exchanged the scarves in the most auspicious traditional way. Led by Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche in a traditional fashion, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa escorted His Holiness to the main shrine.
Upon proceeding to the main shrine, His Holiness made three prostrations towards the main statue of Lord Maitreya. In front of the relic stupas of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa to the right and of His Holiness the 11th Tai Situ Pema Wangchog Gyalpo to the left, the Karmapa lit butter lamps and then resided on the dharma throne in the front center.
The welcome speech and the introduction of the program was conducted by Kyorpon Dawa Tsering. As the monks started chanting the seven branch prayers, an elaborate mandala offering was made by Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa joined by Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Meanwhile, Khenpo Thubten Karma read the Auspicious Five Perfect Conditions and the traditional tea and rice were served. A brief introduction on the relation between the black and red crown lineage was made by Khenpo Gyaltsen Phuntsok. The morning welcome ceremony was concluded with dedication prayers.
Then His Holiness was invited to his residence and lunch was served at the private dining room for His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa only so the two can spend time in the utmost joyful way.
In the afternoon, His Holiness and Guru Vajradhara were invited to the decorated balcony above the performance stage to watch the continuation of the preliminary VAJRA Nyitham (Cham) where the performers wore no masks. Both of them retired for the day after dinner at the private dining room.
Day 2: 9 December 2016
In the early morning of the second day, His Holiness and Guru Vajradhara were invited back to the decorated balcony to preside the actual VAJRA Nyitham with masks. At 10:30 AM, Special Guest the Prime Minister of Tibetan Government-in-Exile at Dharamasala (Central Tibetan Administration), Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay arrived with the Chairman of Tibetan-Parliament-in-Exile, Venerable Khenpo Sonam Tenphel. They were invited to the Audience Hall where Guru Vajradhara received them with the traditional tea and rice welcome ceremony at the presence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa.
At 10:55 AM, after the special guests proceeded to the special area of the veranda overlooking the monastery courtyard, the actual function started. On this very special day, the Chief Guest was His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and the Special Guest was Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay. Other honorable guests included the Chairman of the Tibetan-Parliament-in-Exile (Parliament of Central Tibetan Administration), the Chief Justice Commissioner of Central Tibetan Administration, the Private Secretary of Ganden Phodrang, members from the Parliament and Secretariat of Central Tibetan Administration joined by many other distinguished guests. Representatives from many Kagyupa monasteries from India, Bhutan and Nepal joined this special occasion including representatives from Rumtek Monastic Seat of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, His Eminence Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche from Zurmang Monastic Seat of Zurmang in India, representatives from Jamgon Kongtrul Labrang and many Rinpoches and Lamas from near and far. Representatives from various Palpung centers also participated in this special event.
The welcome speech and the introduction of the ceremony were conducted by Khenpo Karma Dakpa. The introduction of Fire Male Monkey Year Tsechu (Guru Padmasambhava) and its related Vajra Nyitham (Cham) of Palpung tradition was made by Khenpo Pema.
The most profound and significant addresses were delivered subsequently by Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa, the Chairman of Parliament of Central Tibetan Administration, Venerable Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and the Prime Minister of Central Tibetan Administration, His Excellency Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Singay. The last and most touching historical address was conducted by His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa. The morning program was concluded with vote of thanks by Khenpo Jamyang Lodoe. VIP guests were served lunch with the presence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa.
In the afternoon, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa, His Eminence Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay and Venerable Khenpo Sonam Tenphel were invited back to special area of the decorated veranda. All dignitaries and distinguished guests also took their respective seats. Around two thousand devotees shared the blessing of the Grand Procession and Vajra Nyitham of Eight Manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava. During the Vajra Nyitham (Cham) of Protector Shingkyong, His Holiness Gyalwang Kara gave special blessing, prayers and sent a scarf to offer to the protector.
After the day-long ceremony, an evening dinner was organized for all Tulkus, Khenpos and Lamas representing the various monasteries from India, Bhutan and Nepal to join His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa. All representatives felt so much blessing in the presence of both His Holiness and Guru Vajradhara.
Day 3: 10 December 2016
On the third day, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa proceeded to Palpung Lung-Rig Jampal Ling, Palpung Sherabling Institute of Higher Buddhist Studies in advance to receive His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa. Elaborately decorated procession was performed by Shedra to welcome His Holiness.
His Holiness decided to walk from the main monastery to Shedra and on the way he blessed all the stupas and the surrounding establishments such as the medical clinic and the old fox home.
Upon his arrival to Shedra, Guru Vajradhara welcomed His Holiness by offering a traditional scarf and escorted him to the main shrine. His Holiness prostrated three times towards the main shrine, lit butter lamps and started the preparation of Karma Pakshi Empowerment.
After the preparation, His Holiness sat on the throne and conducted Karma Pakshi Empowerment. Meanwhile the traditional tea and rice were served. His Holiness offered empowerment blessing to Guru Vajradhara and Guru Vajradhara offered an elaborate mandala followed by Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Tulkus, Khenpos and the representatives of Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat where they presented detailed offerings.
Lopon Karma Sonam read the explanation of mandala offerings and His Holiness kindly blessed each and every one of thousands of devotees with the vase empowerment of Karma Pakshi.
Lunch was served at the private dining hall at Shedra for His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa, His Eminence Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche and His Eminence Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.
The afternoon session took place at the main shrine of Shedra with the presence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Situpa and full audiences. Elaborate demonstrations from various fields of studies were performed by students from Tsogdra, Shedra, nuns from Palpung Nunnery, Rigney Lobling, and Drarig Tsuklak such as Four Dharma of Gampopa, debates and discussions of various topics, Tibetan Medicine and astrology, etc.
In the evening, cultural dance and music were performed by sangha students of Palpung Riglam Kyedtsal school. Arts from various Himalaya rejoin traditions such as India, Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal were demostrated. School Principal Lama Karma Tobgyal conducted a welcome speech with sincerity describing the reason why they offered a cultural performance by young Sangha of Palpung Riglam Kyedtsal school in front of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa.
Day 4: 11 December 2016
On the morning of 4th day, His Holiness graciously walked around and blessed the entire mandala of Palpung Sherabling Monastic Institution including Tibetan medicinal garden, Buddhist Institute, the golden relic stupa of the 8th Tai Situpa, Riglam Kyedtsal school, the shrine of a gen song Dongtrug with Kunrig Lhakhang and Shangpa Retreat Center.
His Holiness then a paid special visit to Naro Retreat Center for monks and Naro Retreat Center for nuns where he gave profound instructions of practices of Shamata and Guru devotion. He also blessed all retreatants to have smooth and fruitful practice.
Lunch was served at the main monastery only for His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa. Again the two spent their time in the utmost priceless way.
In the afternoon, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Situpa escorted His Holiness to the car. His Holiness returned to Gyuto Monastery.
The four-day visit of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa to Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat of Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa left an unforgettable memory in the heart of every sincere follower of Buddhism. The event will certainly be engraved in the glorious history of Kagyupa.