The annual Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya at the Mahabodhi temple brings together Buddhist masters, monks and lay followers from the Karma Kagyu lineage worldwide for a week-long program. In 2014, it took place from 15 to 21 December.
The Mahabodhi temple complex is a remarkable UNESCO Heritage site. There are many smaller temples around the 55-meter tall main tower, which marks the place where the historical Buddha achieved enlightenment after meditating there for seven days under the Bodhi tree. It is the main pilgrimage site for Buddhists of all traditions.
The daily Kagyu Monlam program consists of recitations of wishes and aspirations for world peace and for connecting with Buddha’s achievement of enlightenment from early morning till dawn. The prayers are always led by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje and other high Rinpoches of our lineage and guests from other lineages, like Tarik Tulku from the Sakya tradition this year. Several thousand Kagyu followers join them, making the Kagyu Monlam a powerful common effort for the well-being and spiritual development of all sentient beings.
At the same time, to address the practical needs of monasteries and their communities, various charity and educational projects were presented at the exhibition hall in the Kagyu Monlam office. Among them were the Karmapa Healthcare Project, the Karmapa Center of Education, Karmapa’s Swayambhu Monastery renovation project, Bodhisattvas in Action Foundation and the Shar Minub monastery project.
The Karmapa’s Monastery renovation project was presented at the “Swayambhu Café” organized by our Diamond Way Buddhism Foundation. It aimed to create awareness, provide information and inspire donations for the essential maintenance and beautification of H.H. Karmapa’s monastery at the Swayambhu stupa in Kathmandu. The barista-run café became quickly a popular meeting point at the Monlam, and all the profits made went towards the renovation project.
Photos courtesy of the Karmapa Documentary Project and Tokpa Korlo.