Kagyu Monlam Asia

Kagyu Monlam Asia

Due to the compassion and activity of the glorious buddha and crown ornament of the teaching of the practice lineage, Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, per his intentions and advice, each year the Kagyu Monlam is held in many countries of the East and West. However, this year because of the unfortunate circumstance of the coronavirus, each country will not be able to hold its usual gathering. Therefore, the office of the Great Kagyu Monlam requested Bokar Monastery of Mirik to conduct a Monlam for all of Asia that could be broadcast over the internet. 

When deciding on where to hold the prayer festival—taking into consideration a suitable place with a stable internet connection—the main hall of Bokar Monastery’s Obar Chimey Ling, its Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies, was selected. The reincarnation of Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche and Kyabje Khenchen Rinpoche led the prayers from October 30th through November 1st. 

On the final day, a special ceremony was held where many recitations of Tara’s Twenty-one Praises were accumulated to benefit the Gyalwang Karmapa and especially for the welfare of all those around the world who have been physically and mentally affected by the coronavirus, so that they may quickly be relieved of all fear, difficulty, and suffering. In connection with this, a special viewing and blessing was offered via the meditation support of all the Vajradhara Bokar Rinpoches—a sacred statue of Noble Arya Tara. 

The preliminaries, the main event, and the concluding sections of the Asia Kagyu Monlam were conducted a most extensive and elaborate manner. The entirety of the program was broadcast far and wide over the internet allowing for many thousands of devoted viewers to join the program. 











Compassion in Action: Celebrating the 35th Birthday of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

Compassion in Action: Celebrating the 35th Birthday of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

Kagyu Monlam Grounds,
June 26, 2020

Organised by Monlam CEO, Lama Chodrak, and Monlam Secretary Jangchup Lingpa, the Compassion in Action Projects of the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust continue throughout the year in Bodhgaya and its environs, and now are extending beyond Bihar. In order to mark the auspicious occasion of the 35th birthday of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa (June 26th, 2020), the project undertook several initiatives:

1. Provision of plastic sheeting to offer protection during monsoon.

Following the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an extensive lockdown across India. During this challenging time, we have been distributing dry rations to many poor local villages. On our last visit to Bakrour village, we came across a newly established settlement of 150 Dalit families living in grass huts that offer little protection against the elements. We measured the size and requirements of plastic sheeting to protect them from the torrential monsoon rains and ordered good quality sheeting from Kolkata. Today, the Kagyu Monlam team, led by Lama Chodrak, visited the village. In the presence of a village head and a local bikkhu, we distributed the customised sheets to 150 families. Now they can welcome the monsoon rain with a big smile, and that makes us very happy too. The beneficiaries of this project are the families of Jagan Manjhi, Indra Devi, Shanti Devi, Panpa Devi, Shela Devi, Jagath Manjhi, Rakesh Manjhi, 150 families in total.

20200626 Provision of plastic sheeting to offer protection during monsoon

2. Tree planting programme.

Bearing in mind His Holiness’ advice on developing a greater awareness of our deep interconnectedness—both to one another and to the planet—Kagyu Monlam initiated a tree planting programme in the Kagyu Monlam grounds. In celebration of His Holiness’ birthday, we are continuing this programme during the monsoon season, with more plants and environment-friendly activities.

20200626 Tree planting programme

3. Dry ration distribution in Gurpa.

This planned activity had to be postponed because of heavy monsoon rain. However, on June 27th, Kagyu Monlam will distribute 1000 packets of free essential dry rations of rice, dal, sugar, soya bean, salt, biscuits, soap, and matchbox to poor people in a village in Gurpa, the mountain where Mahakassapa waits for Maitreya.

4. Distribution of essential groceries in Ladakh.

Compassion in Action is now extending beyond Bodhgaya. In the presence of Chief Representative Officer, Sonamling Tibetan Settlement, Ladakh, staff distributed free essential groceries to the 1092 Tibetan families in Ladak, including 12 camps, the TCV school, and people from the Changthang settled in Choglamsar, Leh. This activity was organised in association with the Tibetan Settlement Office, Ladakh and the Central Tibetan Relief Committee of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, H.P.

20200626 Distribution of essential groceries in Ladakh.

5. Lunch for elders in the Choglamsar Old People’s Home.

As a gesture of respect for their years of contribution to our community during the early struggle of the Tibetan refugee settlement, Kagyu Monlam offered a special lunch and pocket money to elders in the Tibetan Old People’s Home at Choglamsar, Ladakh.

20200626 Lunch for elders in the Choglamsar Old People’s Home



Finally, all the Kagyu Monlam team held a brief butter lamp offering and cake cutting in celebration of the auspicious occasion. Sri Kumar Sarvjeet, Member of the Legislative assembly for Bodhgaya, was the chief guest, and the event was hosted by Lama Chodrak in the Kagyu Monlam Library.

Brief Butterlamp and Cake Ceremony at the Monlam Building

Empowering Local Women: the Sewing Happiness Project


Kagyu Monlam Pavillion,

This project falls under the umbrella of The Compassion in Action Projects at the Kagyu Monlam, which are going from strength to strength and steadily gaining momentum.

For many years the Hart Knowe Trust, a Scottish charity founded by students of the late Akong Tulku, has been collaborating with the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust to work with the people of Bodhgaya and the surrounding area. Jangchup Lingpa, Secretary of the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust, and Vin Harris, one of the founders of Hart Knowe Trust, had often discussed what more could be done to empower local people through training and education. While some of the projects address the immediate needs of local communities, there has always been an aspiration to plant seeds of compassionate action that can grow to provide longer lasting benefit.


Last year 18 young women between 15 and 33 years old took part in the first Sewing Happiness Project. It was an immediate success and with the blessing of Lama Choedrak, CEO of Kagyu Monlam we were able to develop the idea further. The second Sewing Happiness Project ran from December 10th 2019 to February 12th 2020. This year 23 enthusiastic young women attended the sewing class from 2pm to 4pm every day except Sunday. Under expert guidance from two excellent local teachers they thrived: their skills developed and the results exceeded all expectations. The class was made up of some new students and some advanced students who had completed the course last year and were keen to learn more. It is amazing how quickly confidence grows as people find they can create something which they would have previously considered impossible. The training covered topics such as: looking after and using sewing machines, hand-sewing techniques, repairing garments, pattern making, designing and making new clothes for family members. It was particularly moving to see the beautiful outfits the young women had been able to make for their own children. At the end of each course, the students are gifted their sewing machines and sewing kits, so that they can continue to use and develop their newly-acquired skills.

The manager of the project, known to everyone in Tergar as “Tiger”, looked after the project every day with great care and then organised transport so that the young women could take their sewing machines home.


At a special party on the final day of the Sewing Happiness Project the students offered katas to their guests and to their teachers. Lama Choedrak was the guest of honour, accompanied by Jangchup Lingpa along with Ani Sonam and Ani Semchi from Samye Ling as representatives of Hart Knowe Trust. To celebrate the achievements of the students, Lama Chodrak brought Tsok food offerings for everyone to share. He presented gifts to the two teachers, and there were prizes for the top student in the foundation class and in the advanced class, with the winners chosen by the students themselves.

His Holiness Karmapa has said, “As long as we aspire to benefit others, we will continually find opportunities to do so and happily seize them whenever they present themselves”. Perhaps this is the timeless truth that enables the Compassion in Action Projects at the Kagyu Monlam to thrive as we keep finding new ways to express the kindness we naturally feel for each other.

20200204_Women's Sewing Training

The Seventh Kagyu Monlam Animal Camp is Underway

School Education


Garchen Grounds,
February 14 – 23, 2020

The annual veterinary camp began last Friday. Those working in the programme this year include:

• Veterinarians: Dr Diki P. Sherpa, Dr Thinlay Bhutia, Dr Rinchen Ongmoo, Dr Phurba Lepcha, Dr Ruth Pye, Dr Helen Byrnes
• Vet-Aides: Namgay Bhutia, Phurba Tshering Bhutia, D.K. Rai, Smaran Gurung, Sonam Lepcha, Ganesh Gurung, Dolma Bum, Disket Angmo, Samdup Bhutia (Dr Diki’s daughter).

School Education


Many of the volunteers have participated in the camp in previous years and welcome the opportunity to be back doing this important work.

We would like to express our thanks to our sponsors for their unstinting support since 2013: Kagyupa International Monlam Trust, Foundation Brigitte Bardot and SARAH Division, Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Sikkim. We also thank Dogs of Gaya for their continued work to help improve the lives of the dogs of Bodhgaya throughout the year.

School Education


Three main programmes are being undertaken by the Kagyu Monlam Animal Camp this year:

1. Animal Birth Control/Anti-Rabies vaccination: Street dogs are caught humanely by hand or in a net and transported by truck to the surgical facility where they undergo surgical sterilisation and rabies vaccination. After recovery, they are returned to their original capture location. Some pet dogs are also brought to the clinic by their owners for surgical sterilisation and rabies vaccination. Sick and injured dogs and cats, puppies and kittens are also brought to the clinic for treatment.

2. Livestock Outpatients Department: This caters for the medical treatment and veterinary advice on care and husbandry of cows, buffalo, and goats. Many of the animals need deworming and nutritional supplements. Sadly, so far we’ve treated 4 cows with significant burns from the fires used to keep the cows warm during the cold winter.

3. Community education: The community education programme is two-pronged. It includes school visits on dog bite prevention, training on first-aid for dog bites, and teaching the importance of treating animals with love and compassion. Children are shown how to recognize dog behaviour which is important in dog bite and rabies prevention, and some techniques for managing interactions with dogs. Each year new schools are visited, but the message is reinforced by visiting schools that have been visited in previous years. It is pleasing to find that in schools visited in previous years, some children and teachers remember the key teaching points.

Village Education


The community education programme also involves providing information to villagers on basic care and welfare of their cows, buffalo, and goats. Villagers are encouraged to use harnesses rather than painful nose rings for their cows and reminded of the basic needs of animals being food, water and shelter.

Dog bite prevention education


Dr. Ruth with dog


Talking with village head about animal welfare


Marme Monlam: Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance


Monlam Pavilion,
February 8, 2020

The joyous conclusion of the Marme Monlam marks the “virtue in the end” of the 37th Kagyu Monlam. On this cool evening, the image of the Buddha sat austerely among the decorated tormas and an image of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa enthroned below gazed outwardly as the assembly arrived and took their seats.

Participants gradually filled the pavilion and received a clay diya with a tealight as they entered, awaiting instructions for the anticipated lighting of the lamps. Participants sat eagerly as the three MCs who alternatingly in Tibetan, English, and Chinese greeted His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Kyabje Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Kyabje Bokar Yangsi Rinpoche and all the others lamas and tulkus, and Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche and all the other khenpos and acharyas. The MCs extended gratitude for the teachings and the opportunity for the sangha and the members of the public to generate merit together.

The MCs invoked the prayer of refuge, “The Buddha is the unsurpassable Teacher, the Dharma is the unsurpassable Refuge, the Sangha is the unsurpassable Guide.” Having called to mind the three jewels, the MCs introduced the Marme Monlam and guided the assembly through the evening’s program.

Nine umdzes gracefully entered the stage and joined their palms in anjali mudra as they began reciting the prayers of The Three Daily Observances in Sanskrit, “Buddham saranam gacchammi, dharman saranam gacchammi, sangham saranam gacchammi.” Then, twenty nuns from Drupdey Palmo Chokyi Dingkhang Nunnery and twenty monks from Vajra Vidya Institute of Thrangu Monastery recited the Melody of the Three Jewels beautifully.

Following both of these invocations of refuge, the umdzes returned to the stage where they intoned The Meditation on the Great Compassionate One: Benefitting Beings Throughout Space, invoking Avalokitesvara, the Noble Chenrezik, who views every sentient being compassionately. Alternating performances, the nuns from the Drupde Palmo Chokyi Dingkhang Nunnery returned, together with the monks of the Vajra Vidya Institute of Thrangu Monastery, for a rendition of A Joyful Aspiration, a poem composed by the His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa.

The MCs returned to stage to invite the assembly of monlam participants to repeat The Lamp Prayer after His Holiness and to light the lamps when His Holiness said, “Om vajra aloke ah hum.” An image of His Holiness recited the verse in Tibetan, English, and Chinese:

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, Mount 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 illuminate all the Pure Realms of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions so they are clearly seen.

Then, His Holiness recited the Sanskrit mantra, “Om vajra aloke ah hum. Om vajra aloke ah hum. Om vajra aloke ah hum,” and the lighting of the lamps began. The flickering light of the lamps spread throughout the pavilion as participants passed the flame neighbor to neighbor. Everyone held up their lamps and sang these inspirational verses as voices filled the pavilion with the final recitation for the auspicious conclusion of offerings and aspirations for the benefit of all beings.