Monlam Special Report --
The Altar Offerings
Bodhgaya, report by
Jo Gibson, photos taken by
Pema Orser Dorje
Once more, this year’s altars feature Korean-style offerings
commissioned by the Gyalwang Karmapa. The altars stand each side of
the central mandala and are staged on three levels. Traditional
Tibetan torma are on the upper level, interspersed with
bouquets of colourful , fragrant flowers.
On the middle level are the gwei-im-s’hei , a Korean
word which means ‘accumulating’. These cyclindrical shaped
arrangements are made from carefully stacked and interlaced layers
of ingredients such as biscuits, sweets and nuts, arranged into
decorative patterns. The finished offering is covered with plastic
film to keep it clean and dustfree. The third row contains heaped
plates of fruit – dates, green and yellow oranges, pomegranates,
grapefruit, pineapples, papaya, guavas and bananas.
In Korea the offerings are placed on distinctively shaped bases. In
India, these have been substituted with white china plates and
bowls glued together.