Religion: In a valley through which the Indus river flows, around three hundred thousand devotees were seated on a wide barren land.

They watched a long queue of monks, nuns, lams and trulkus holding cymbals, trumpets, bells and drums, slowly enter a newly constructed gigantic choeten.

This grand religious procession symbolised the first public appearance of the six bone ornaments of Naropa after twelve years.

As the sanga community was escorting the sacred relics to the choeten, devotees clasped their hands together and recited prayers. Some overwhelmed by the event, wiped away tears.

During the first day of the three-day bone ornaments ceremony on September 16 at Hemis in Ladakh, India, Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche adorned the ornaments and hats made from the hairs of one hundred thousand dakinis.

Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche then blessed the 300,000-strong gathering with the ornaments and also gave an empowerment on Chakrasamvara, which is the main tutelary deity in the Kagyu tradition.

Among the devotees were close to one thousand Bhutanese who travelled to Ladakh to get a glimpse of the six bone ornaments also called Naro Gyendruk. The relics were on public display until yesterday.

Representatives from the Central Monastic Body, government officials, monks and nuns, lay practitioners, volunteers, students of Sherubtse and the Jigme Namgyel Engineering colleges, business community and farmers attend the programme that ends today.

Considered a sacred relic, the six bone ornaments were believed to have been offered to Naropa by dakinis when he attained enlightenment.

The six bone ornaments comprised of a headdress, armband, necklaces, bracelets, anklet and earrings, which are made of ivory and studded with many precious stones.

Naropa is considered a manifestation of Avalokitesvara (Chenrizig). He was the spiritual master of the great translator, Marpa Lotsawa (1012-1097), who founded the Drukpa Kagyu tradition of Buddhism in Tibet.

The scared relic is displayed during the Fire Male Monkey Year, which is the birth year of Guru Rinpoche. The year comes only once in 60 years.

Naropa, gave the six bone ornaments and his rosary of rubies and ritual objects to his eminent disciple, Marpa Lotsawa.

A text on Naropa reads: “I bestow the waves of grace to the lineages of the North, the lands of snow. You have nothing more to do here. Return to Tibet. I impart to you the power of my legacy and appoint you my regent on the roof of the world. The land of snow abounds in potential disciples, worthy vessels for my teachings.”

So it is believed that following this, Naropa passed the ornaments to introduce the Kagyu tradition of Buddhism in Tibet, which at that time was called the Land of Snow.

Marpa then passed down the six bone ornaments to his heart disciple Ngok Toen Choeku Dorje (1036-1102). Later, it came into the possession of Ngok Toen Jangchub (1360-1446), who then gave the ornaments to the second Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche, who was one of the reincarnations of Ngok Toen Choeku Dorji.

Since then, the ornaments were passed down to the line of the Gyalwang Drukpas.

The hat, woven with hairs of one hundred thousand Dakinis, is believed to have been given to the third Gyalwang Drukpa Jamyang Chokyi Drakpa (1478-1522) by Dakini Sukhasiddhi.

Given the lack of adequate space at the 11th century Hemis monastery, the main centre of Drukpa in Ladakh, the ornaments were displayed at the newly built choeten, which is located around two kilometres from the monastery.

The wide barren land in the vicinity of the choeten gives devotees an adequate space to get the glimpse of the relics, accommodation and food, and to watch an entertainment programme performed by nuns, monks, students of Bhutan, Nepal and Ladakh.

During the display, the chairman of the organisaing committee of Narpo, His Eminence Thuksey Rinpoche said that the six bone ornaments symbolise spiritual realisation through the six yogas of Naropa.

It is believed that the mere sight of the six ornaments has the spiritual power to off set obstacles in daily life and ultimately provide liberation from samsara said Thuksey Rinpoche.

In the following two days, the ornaments were placed on the throne at the choeten and displayed to the public where devotees from the entire Himalayan region, Asia-Pacific, Europe and America were able to observe it.

Several renowned masters from the Himalayan region also gave teachings.

The bone ornaments ceremony concludes today with the unfurling of the largest Thongdrel of Buddha Amitabha (Sangay Yodpame).

Tenzin Namgyel | Ladakh