Mar-me Monlam 2009
11, 2009, report by Jo Gibson,
photos taken by
Karma Norbu, Pema Orser Dorje
For many people, this is their favourite event, of the whole Monlam
festival, especially the young monks and nuns, who have sat patiently
through hours of prayers and teachings which they may not always
thoroughly understand. Mar-me is Tibetan for butter lamp, and,
originally, this was the time when thousands of butter lamps were
offered. The grease from butter lamps and candles was damaging the stone
of the monuments, so these days, for environmental reasons, butter lamps
have been replaced by battery-operated lamps.
Gathered for one last time in front of the bodhi tree, everyone waited
expectantly for His Holiness to arrive. The arc lamps threw the face of
the great Mahabodhi temple spire into sharp relief making it look even
more powerful and majestic. Decorative fairy lights blinked against the
darkness of the grassy banks. One display still greeted everyone with
“Welcome to 26th Kagyu Monlam”.
And now it was time to say goodbye.
Sirens cut through the low susurration of conversation; Gyalwang Karmapa
had arrived. He came through the red gate and down the steps to take his
place in front of the bodhi tree, at the head of the congregation,
alongside H.E.Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche,
and other Rinpoches.
The evening began with the Short Chenresig Puja, All-Pervading Benefit
of Beings which has the concluding aspiration:
By this merit may we quickly accomplish Avalokiteshvara
And establish every being without exception in that state.
The Refuge Prayer in Sanskrit and other Sanskrit verses followed.
After that small groups gathered on the steps below the red gate to
offer prayers in their own language and musical style. This year a
Chinese group came first, then Koreans, Vietnamese, and, lastly,
English. The English group sang the prayer “One World, written by His
Holiness himself, to a musical accompaniment on guitar and violin.
His Holiness beat a small gong three times. This was the signal for
everyone to light their lamps for the Mar-me Monlam. The gelong and
gelongma had lotus-shaped lamps; all-in-all there were more than 500 of
these. In addition there were 2500 electric candles.
Next came Atisha’s Lamp Prayer. The Gyalwang Karmapa read the first part
in Tibetan, Chinese, and English, and everyone repeated the lines after
him. The other verses were sung.
May the bowl of this lamp become equal to the outer ring of this world
realm of the great Three Thousands. May its stem be the size of the King
of Mountains, Mt. Meru. May its oil fill the surrounding oceans. In
number, may a hundred million appear before each and every buddha. May
its light dispel all the darkness of ignorance from the Peak of
Existence to the Incessant Hell and illumine all the Pure Realms of the
buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions so they are clearly seen.
OM VAJRA ALOKE ĀH HŪṂ
I offer this amazing, wonderful, bright lamp
To the one thousand buddhas of this fortunate aeon
The lamas, yidams, dakinis, dharma protectors,
And gatherings of deities in the mandalas
Of all pure realms of the infinite ten directions.
My parents in the fore, may every sentient being
In this lifetime and all the places they take birth
See the pure realms of the perfect Buddhas directly
And then become inseparable from Amitabha.
Out of the power of the truth of the Three Jewels
And the deities of the Three Roots I’ve made this prayer.
Please grant your blessings that it be quickly accomplished.
TADYATHĀ PAŃCHANDRIYA ĀVA BODHĀNAYE SVĀHĀ