His Holiness the Je Khenpo conducting lhabsang, riwo sangchoed and soelkha to appease Lord Ganesh and Shiva in Rajgir (Photo: Lama Yeshi Norbu)

Moenlam Chhenmo in Rajgir

The seven-day Moenlam Chhenmo (the great prayer ceremony) presided over by His Holiness the 70th Je-Khenpo,  Trulku Jigme Choeda with Gyelsay Trulku in Rajgir, India completed successfully on November 18.

“The great prayer ceremony was conducted without any obstacles or mishaps to the devotees,” Dratshang Lhentshog’s secretary Karma Tshering Namgyal, who is in Rajgir, told Kuensel over the phone yesterday.

This was the first time that His Holiness presided over the Moenlam Chhenmo in India. More than 1,800 monks from Bhutan and 700 monks from Darjeeling and Ladakh, India and Nepal along with more than 10,000 devotees attended the Moenlam Chhenmo that began on November 12.

The Dratshang Lhentshog’s secretary said that some devotees and monks also organised a programme to give break to the horses pulling chariots. 

He said that the devotees requested the charioteers to give break to the horses and for two days. The owners of the horses were paid daily wage to keep the horses free until the end of the prayer ceremony.  

“There are more than 100 chariots that run in Rajgir town and it is their age old culture inherited since mighty king Bimbisara and also a source of income in family during the peak seasons,” the Zhung Dratshang stated in its facebook.

A team of 120 DeSuups joined the devotees to control the crowd during the great prayer ceremony. 

His Majesty’s Kidu mobile medical unit was set up in the area to provide emergency medical care and basic medical services to the pilgrims attending the Moenlam Chhenmo from November 12 to 18. 

The medical team, supported by DeSuup volunteers will provide same services during the special prayer ceremonies at Bodhgaya from November 19 to 23.

Karma Phuntsho (PhD) said that the moenlam is intrinsically an aspiration or wish. “Since Buddhism deals with mind as a primary factor in the pursuit of wellbeing and enlightenment, it is important to have the right kind of aspiration or intention. Words and texts which help us generate good aspiration and motivation are also referred to as moenlam.” 

The most common theme of Buddhist moenlam, according to Karma Phuntsho, is to wish to reach enlightenment, which is the supreme goal of all endeavours and also to obtain happiness and wellbeing before reaching enlightenment. 

“So Buddhist prayers are aimed at the dual goal of reaching enlightenment ultimately and of attaining happiness and minimizing suffering in the interim,” he said.

His Holiness conducted a Rewo Sangchoed (incense burning offerings) and Soekha to appease Lord Ganesh and Shiva in Rajgir before moving to Bodhgaya yesterday. 

Prior to the Moenlam Chhenmo, His Holiness  presided over the Salang Tendrel for Bhutanese Lhakhang in Rajgir on  November 11. The Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, graced the foundation-laying ceremony.

The Rajgir Project includes construction of a temple, a hostel and a guesthouse on an area of 2.8 acres for the Bhutanese pilgrims.

His Holiness is presiding over a Tshokhor, spiritual event at Mahabodhi Temple today and will consecrate Bhutan temple tomorrow.

Rinzin Wangchuk

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