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Friday, July 22, 2016, 09:03

Tibetans gather for sacred ritual

By Palden Nyima,Xu Wei
Tibetans gather for sacred ritual

The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu (above), greets followers at the opening of his Kalachakra instructions on Thursday in Xigaze, the second-largest city of the Tibet autonomous region. An estimated 50,000 devotees are expected to attend the fourday ritual. (Photos / Galsang Jisme, Tibet Daily)

From across the country and overseas, thousands gathered on Thursday for a sacred festival as the highly respected Panchen Lama began one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most important rituals, held for the first time in more than half a century.

An estimated 50,000 monks, nuns and devotees showed up in the rain in Xigaze, the second-largest city of the Tibet autonomous region, to hear Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu give the Kalachakra initiation, regarded as Tibetan Buddhism’s highest teachings.

The ritual, which will last four days, began on Thursday afternoon near Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the Panchen Lama’s traditional seat. At the same time, about 40 monks began a closed-door observance honoring Yidam, the Kalachakra deity.

According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the Kalachakra is a ritual that aims to initiate and empower disciples. This is the first Kalachakra, which means “wheel of time”, given by the 11th Panchen Lama since his enthronement in 1995.

The Panchen Lama said that the last Kalachakra, given by the late 10th Panchen Lama in 1954, also commenced on a rainy day.

“It is a propitious sign,” he told his followers.

Although it is Tibetan Buddhist tradition that devotees must remove their hats before meeting a high-ranking living Buddha, the Panchen Lama allowed them to listen to his teachings while wearing hats or using umbrellas.

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