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CEREMONIES OF REMEMBRANCE

HH the Dalai Lama circumbulating the statue, 1994
Monks from Mindroling monastery, Dehradun performing Cham dance at Hotel Ashok, 1996
HH the Dalai Lama and Sakya Trizin Rinpoche witnessing recitation of Heart Sutra by Vietnamese monks, 2000

BEARING WITNESS

A Ceremony of Remembrance is held every year in October, a major one held every alternate year. The first happened in 1994 at the Buddha Jayanti Park to mark one year of the installation of the Buddha Statue. His Holiness the Dalai Lama began the three day commemoration with a Dharma discourse on the lawns of the park in front of the Buddha Statue. This was followed by a festival of Buddhist music held at the India International Centre with musicians from Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and of course, Tibetan monks.

1996 Ceremony of Rememberance. HH the Dalai Lama speaks on ‘Meditation’

JOYS HIMALAYAN

In October l996 a three day festival of Cham dances was held in New Delhi to commemorate the installation of the Buddha Statue at Buddha Jayanti Park. Inaugurating the festival, His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivered a discourse on ‘Meditation’ to a crowd of more than thousand people in the park. In the evening, His Holiness opened the Cham Dance Festival at the Hotel Ashok. Dancers from four different monasteries at Dehradun and Bylakuppe, representing the four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, performed for three evenings the symbolic and deeply artistic religious dances.

GATHERING LIGHTS

In October 1998, to commemorate the installation of Buddha Statue the ‘Great Prayer Festival of Lhasa’ was reenacted in Buddha Jayanti Park. Patterned on the 600-year-old Great Prayer Festival held annually at the Jokhang Temple of Lhasa, the festival was celebrated in New Delhi for the first time. It started with a morning discourse by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on ‘The Life of Sakyamuni Buddha’. Later a choir of monks from the Drepung monastery in Karnataka rendered ritual chanting as they used to do in Lhasa. The music made the park resonate with the deep overtones of the monks’ trained voices and the evocative sound of drums & horns and vocalist Shubha Mudgal presented a recital. In the evening monk-scholars engaged in a lively debate on Buddhist philosophy.

TURNING OF THE WHEEL

In the year 2000 His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the occasion of remembrance with a discourse on ‘The Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma’. The evening programme started with the chanting of the Mangala Sutta by Sri Lankan monks followed by the rendition of the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit by Ms. Subhadra Desai. The Sutra was then recited by Vietnamese monks in their language after which it was chanted in Tibetan by the monks of the Sera-je Monastery. Ms. Vidya Rao sang verses from the Bodhicaryavatara in Sanskrit followed by the Sera monks rendering these verses in Tibetan.

THE THREE PERCEPTIONS

On 2 October 2002 the remembrance celebrations were presided over by Kyabgon Sakya Trizin Rinpoche. He gave a teaching on the ‘Three Perceptions’, considered to be the introduction to the fundamental teachings of the Sakya Tradition. The evening saw the Buddha Jayanti Park transformed by the light of hundreds of candles floating in the water around the illuminated Buddha Statue. Chants by the monks of the Sakya Centre reverberated against the sunset sky.