Lifestyle Books and Art 03 Oct 2016 Stunning Naropa fest ...

Stunning Naropa festival lights up Himalayas

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | R BHAGWAN SINGH
Published Oct 3, 2016, 6:49 am IST
Updated Oct 3, 2016, 6:58 am IST
The Buddha brocade ceremony was part of a month-long Naropa-2016 festival that saw over five million people descend from all over the world.
The newly built, exquisitely beautiful Naro Palace; devotees flock for a view to one of the world’s largest silk embroidered Buddha tangka unveiled by Drukpa at the festival; His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa wearing the six bone necklace, considered among the holiest relics for the Buddhists.
 The newly built, exquisitely beautiful Naro Palace; devotees flock for a view to one of the world’s largest silk embroidered Buddha tangka unveiled by Drukpa at the festival; His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa wearing the six bone necklace, considered among the holiest relics for the Buddhists.

Leh-Ladakh: ‘The teachings on ahimsa, non-violence, by Gautama Buddha are more relevant now than ever before, with strife and violent conflict seen all over — between the people, between the countries.

Lord Buddha might not have imagined that the human kind would slip into such lows of mutual intolerance and hatred’. That was His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa after unveiling the largest silk embroidered brocade of Buddha, 60-ft tall, on September 19 just outside the grand new Naro Palace at Leh-Ladakh nestled in the magnificent Kashmiri Himalayas at an altitude of about 12,000 ft above sea level.  The anguish was understandable as just the previous day and not too far away, 17 Indian soldiers were killed in a terror attack on an army camp by terrorists at Uri.

 

The Buddha brocade ceremony was part of a month-long Naropa-2016 festival that saw over five million people, mostly Buddhists, descend from all over the world at the 17th century Hemis monastery of the Drukpa lineage, the largest such monastery in the Himalayas for the grand celebrations hailed as the Kumbh Mela of the Himalayas happening once every 12 years, which included Buddhist prayers, chanting, music and dance, besides an archery completion and of course, the preaching by Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the 800-year-old Drukpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism practised in over 1,000 monasteries in the Himalayas, besides by millions of Buddhists. There were also cultural shows put up by Bollywood performers to add contemporary pep to what otherwise was a solemn Buddhist festival.

 

The highlight of the festival was the unveiling of the six bone ornaments — the crown, necklace, earrings, bracelets, seralkha and apron — considered one of the most revered Buddhist relics, believed to have been offered to Naropa by Dakins at the moment of enlightenment. There were the Kung Fu nuns performing the dragon dance, the drum shows and the beautiful Dakini dance.
The massive gathering of Buddhist monks and believers of both sexes and all ages conducted themselves with admirable order and piety throughout the festival time, not really needing the help and intervention of the sparse deployment of security personnel. No shouting and screaming, no jostling and no littering; just the chanting of Buddhist hymns and exchanging of warm smiles.

 

“I came with aunt Retty and some 80 others from Hong Kong. Many have come from mainland China. I have been wanting to come to Naropa ever since some friends described their wonderful experience participating in the last Naropa festival 12 years back. I am so happy I am here now”, said Yeung Sara, 35, an accountant, now living in Beijing, as she rested her feet for a short while under the imposing Naro Palace shade in the cool but sharp mid-noon sun. “I have seen and heard the Holiness. I am blessed”.

Some 20 metres away in a small row of soft cushions laid out for the senior monks and VIP guests at the Buddha brocade ceremony sat a wrinkled monk gently swaying while chanting.

 

“He is Namtak-Gyatso-Nee from Jangtang Bolok and he is 98,” said a cheerful interpreter. And when the old man slowly turned towards me and mumbled, the man was as happy as he was eager in translating, “He says you are very lucky coming here to be blessed by Holy Drukpa amid this festivity in the Himalayas”.

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