The Garchen has expanded to 260 tents, erected in December in order to accommodate the thousands of monks from South India who stayed in the encampment during the Kalachakra Empowerment. Eighteen of the tents have been set aside for nuns. In addition, this year, His Holiness has reinstated the Garchen Riding Hat. This special hat was worn by Lamas and Khenpos in the Great Encampment in Tibet during the time of the 7th Karmapa Choedrak Gyatso. His Holiness designed the hats and had them made specially. He has gifted them personally to members of Tsurphu Labrang staff, to monks and nuns in the Kagyu Monlam Working Team, and to the Cotton-Clad retreat lamas who are taking part in the Six Yogas of Naropa sessions each evening.
The New Kitchen and Dining Facility
Though not yet completed, this three-storey addition to the Monlam facilities has been fully operational since the Kalachakra Empowerment in Bodhgaya. During that time, the kitchen provided food for thousands of monks and laypeople who were staying in the Garchen encampment or in specially constructed sleeping areas within the Monlam Pavillion.
Now, during the 34th Monlam, it is continuing to provide three meals a day for thousands of monks, nuns and laypeople. Food is served to everyone without question. The top floor will be used in future by Friends of Kagyu Monlam Members and the middle floor is reserved for Rinpoches, VIPs and high lamas.