Comet Hyakutake, image by David Darling.
The rest of the week, it was a sleepy little village, with a few Hindu and Buddhists temples scattered about here and there.
At that particular time, i was staying in a small compound belonging to Chadral Rinpoche, not far from his monastery at Yanglasho. This place is really the main seat where he resides. It has a spring that has been captured in two fairly large tanks just below the rocky outcrop in which the monastery is nestled. And just nearby is a small cave that is said to have been one of several where the great Tantric Master, Padmasambava is known to have spent some time in meditation. Large old trees surround the cliffs, the spring and the monastery, giving it all something of the feel of a small oasis.
At that particular time Chadral Rinpoche was conducting a ceremony in the Lhakang just above the monks quarters. These prayer gatherings normally last ten days, during which time, special, consecrated substances and herbs are gathered together and placed within a carefully constructed mandala. Then prayers are recited and rituals enacted by Rinpoche and his gathering of monks and nuns. Soon after the beginning of this ceremony, which is called a Drupchen, the Lhakang is 'sealed' so speak, and only those who have sipped some consecrated water, before entering, are then allowed to cross the threshold into the Temple. From that day on, the sessions are carried out in a daily routine that begins before dawn and ends around 8pm at night, however there are several monks who always remain in the temple to recite the mantra, and this is kept up during the entire ten days and nights that the ceremony is in progress.
On the 10th day, everyone rises very early and the puja begins around 2am. This is the day when the 'mandala' is symbolically opened and everyone present is given some of the special, blessed substances and water that have been kept within the closed shrine.
That morning i rose at 1.30am, drowsily dressed myself, made my few preparations and then closing door, headed out onto the road that runs down to the monastery where the ceremony was about to begin. Just as i was closing the outer gate, i noticed some thing very odd...
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