Sunday, February 21, 2010

Learning Pujas

It feels like I've been in retreat these past few days - sitting in Ladrang with two lovely monks, Ven. Kating Rinpoche and Gen-la, who came all the way from Gaden Shartse Monastery to teach us Malaysians pujas. This was of course all H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche's brainchild - to teach Malaysians how to do the pujas so we can practice here in Malaysia and even teach others in future. All this is part of Rinpoche's grand plan which leads to our future retreat land, TKL.

What's so special about the Ladrang is that it is designed purely for others. Every comfort is available and everything is prepared for our convenience, and the Ladrang Kitchen team prepares meals for us at the drop of a hat. Jamie, who has kind of become the Puja Queen by default, has been working on the pujas for weeks and weeks. Her desk at KMP has been vacant and she seems to have almost moved into the Ladrang permanently. During this week where the puja team is learning how to make tormas and the rituals involved in each puja, Jamie has been toiling night after night to prepare for the next days' pujas. I rejoice for her hard work (yay - i get some of her merit!).

What I love about these pujas is learning how to make the tormas and actually getting involved with painting them and making them. I learned how to roll the tormas to get that conical shape, how to paint the tormas with upward strokes so they don't crack. I got to paint Yamantaka, Setrap and Dakini's tormas. How blessed I am to get to do these wonderful sacred activities. And yes - these pujas will hopefully become books for practice in future!

The best part is of course the chanting of the pujas. I love to listen to the monks chanting in Tibetan. It just makes my heart sing. Perhaps i was a yak in the monastery field in my past life and the chanting brings back memories. I have always loved to hear Rinpoche chant and when Rinpoche and the two monks have chanted together, it's really, really stunning.

It just seems like that is what heaven should be like.

Today, we did the Gyabshi puja, which is the 400 offerings for the clearing of obstacles. It was really quite amazing. We made 100 torma offerings to the spirits, 100 stupas (represented by images printed on paper though originally, the monks would make 100 stupas to offer!), 100 spirit tsatsas, the sponsor lu (which we decided would be Sean!) and the accompanying offerings. It was all great fun to prepare!

Some photos:

Day 1: Gen-la making beautifully uniform tormas for the Menlha puja.

Day 1: Kechara Puja Team wondering if they can do the same.

Day 2: Sheningdunduk Puja - Heart Sutra
Day 2: Gorgeous Tormas to Yamantaka, Setrap, Dakinis, Kalarupa, Ngondro, Chindro

Day 2: Spirit Lus - colours representing different directions

Day 3: Stunning Gyabshi offerings set up on the side of the main altar.
Looked a bit like 'Lord of the Rings' (i thought rather irreverently).

Day 3: The Gyabshi Offering table in relation to the altar

Day 3: Sean as the sponsor lu!

Day 3: Here is the sponsor lu on the Gyabshi offering table

May all our obstacles be removed!!

I'm very thankful to Tsem Rinpoche for letting us have this opportunity to learn these ancient rituals to benefit our spiritual journey. And what a great journey it is!