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Chodul Monlam Chenmo

ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་སྨོན་ལམ། It is said that when Shakya muni Buddha was 51 years old, he had amassed countless followings through his teaching. They came from all walks of life, including kings, the wealthy as well as the poor and destitute.  He was renowned and loved, so much so, that the other religious masters were jealous of him. Wishing to tarnish his reputation, they relentlessly taunted him and challenged him to a teaching competition. Shakya muni Buddha took up the challenge.

Shakya muni Buddha not only competed against other religious masters but also against the devils and spirits from the lower realms. A huge crowd attended the event. Shakya muni Buddha defeated them all in fifteen days. Thus, the event came to be known as the days of great miracles.

Centuries later, Je Tsong Khapa, a Tibetan monk formally consecrated the occasion as the great prayer festival. It was called Chodul Monlam Chenmo (or simply as Monlam) and held from the first to the fifteen day of the New Year with the last day designated as the holiest day. This was to commemorate the day in which Shakya muni Buddha taught an important teaching to a large gathering of believers. At Tashi Lhunpo monastery, Monlam is observed with an added significance. It is recorded that during the fifteenth century, the first Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drup, the founder of Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse, Tibet laid dying. It was days before the New Year. His followers were grief stricken. To lessen their pain, Gyalwa Gendun Drup made his last wish by asking them to promise to hold the Monlam prayer service annually. He asked that the prayers be recited not only in remembrance of him, but also for the reincarnation for those who had passed away but continue to remain in the Bardo. His wish was granted and Monlam prayer service is faithfully observed to this day with only minor change to its timing. That decision is left to the individual monastery.

This year, Monlam prayer services will be held at our Tashi Lhunpo monastery in India on the 7th day of the Tibetan first month (March 5 according to Gregorian calendar). This is because this year, Tibetan calendar has no 8th day in the first month, but instead has two 25th days. Our event dates are also different from Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Tibet where their Monlam will be held on the 5thday of the Tibetan first month (March 3rd.according to Gregorian calendar)

During these ten days, special prayers will be recited in strict order and according to centuries old instruction. Puja will begin in the morning, and again in early afternoon ending in late afternoon.

It is believed that during these holiest days, the prayers radiate great power. They not only benefit the person who recites them, but also have the power to positively alter and influence world events. The impact of the prayers grows and multiplies in strength if they are recited by multitudes at the same time.

We hope you will join us to pray and meditate not only to cleanse our own negative karmas but also to benefit others. Let us remember and pray for those who have passed by wishing them good new rebirth. Together, let our streams of prayers bring peace and happiness to the world.



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