Kagyu Monlam offers free lunch in Bodhgaya
3 March, 2012
After the conclusion of the morning session at the Monlam
Pavilion, Gyalwang Karmapa visited the free food camp in
Bodhgaya, which is being organised on the sidelines of the
29th Kagyu Monlam festival, which runs from March
1 to March 8, 2012.
Nearly 500 people, of all ages, from the local Bodhgaya
community came for lunch. They were served rice, lentil soup
and vegetable. They sat in lines outside the tent from where
bucketfuls of freshly prepared food was brought in by boys
who served the food out on biodegradable banana leaf plates.
Some diners brought their own plates.
After arriving at the Kalachakra Ground at around 11:20 am,
His Holiness briefly entered the tent where food was being
prepared and then watched as ladles of thick yellow dhal and
vegetable curry were poured over piles of rice. The diners
ate with relish, with their right hands as is customary. His
Holiness spent approximately 10 minutes at the site.
The lunch program has been outsourced to Fuzia Vegetarian
Restaurant in Bodhgaya. In one day they cook a total of 150
kilograms of rice, 32 kilograms of dhal, 60 kilogram of
potatoes, and 30 heads of cauliflower, according to the
restaurant owner Naval Singh.
Mr.Singh, an enthusiastic and jolly man in his 40s, walked
briskly around and appealed for calm whenever the crowd’s
pushing and shoving threatened to get out of control. The
lunch is prepared by a team of three people in a tent
functioning as a kitchen within the Kalachakra ground. Those
coming to lunch consist of people of all ages and hail from
the Bodhgaya area and also from neighboring villages. While
most eat at the ground, some simply come and take their
.Gyalwang Karmapa’s sister Chamsing Ngodup Pelzom initiated
the free lunch program in 2009, the year in which Karmapa
turned 25, which was his obstacle year according to the
Gyalwang Karmapa suggested that the food offering be
extended by one week to two weeks this year as part of the
long life prayers for His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche and His
Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche, two senior lamas of the Karma
Organizers said nearly 500 people had been coming to lunch
The number of people coming for lunch is far less than in
the past two years, which organizers said is perhaps due to
the warmer weather and also because the peak season for
pilgrimage has ended and many of the beggars from outlying
areas have returned to their home villages.
Organizers said that each meal costs around Rs.20 per head.
If 500 people come to eat lunch for 15 days, the two-week
program is expected to cost a total of approximately Rs.
The lunch offering will last from February 22 to March 8.
Report by TseNam, photos taken by