Exclusive retreat for Dalai Lama meditation – Sikkim gets ready for Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit

TASHI DING MONASTERY  photo Choegyal Tenzin

The Telegraph Exclusive retreat for Dalai Lama meditation – Sikkim gets ready for tibetan spiritual leader’s visit Gangtok, Sept. 12: The Sikkim government is constructing an exclusive retreat for the Dalai Lama at Tashiding monastery for his stay during the nine-day tour of the state.

The Tibetan spiritual leader will visit several parts of Sikkim and will attend a host of programmes during the tour from December 15 to 23.

“The Dalai Lama will meditate at a retreat in Tashiding monastery (West Sikkim) on December 16 and 17. The retreat, Tsam Khang (meditation centre), is being constructed and should be ready by November. The retreat will be exclusively for His Holiness and the government may later declare it a museum,” said state ecclesiastical secretary Tenzing Gelek.

He was briefing a gathering of monks, Tibetan organisations and Tibetan settlement welfare officials in Gangtok on Friday on the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama. State human resource development minister N.K. Pradhan was also present at the meeting and he invited suggestions from the public on the kind of pujas needed to be performed during the visit for the welfare of the state.

The Tashiding monastery in West Sikkim belongs to the Nyingmapa order and is about 145km from Gangtok.

Before his arrival, the Dalai Lama will be staying in Kalimpong on December 13 and 14. His programme schedule during the two-day stay in the hill town has not been disclosed as yet.

According to a tentative itinerary, the Dalai Lama will be flying to Pelling in West Sikkim on a chopper on December 15. He is scheduled to make a brief visit to the Pemayangste monastery and then reach Tashiding monastery the same day, said Gelek.

On December 18, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to depart for Palchen Choling monastery at Ralang in South Sikkim district. He will also visit a settlement of the Tibetan community there later. The next day, he will take part in a blessing ceremony at the under-construction Buddha Park at Rabong before flying back to Gangtok.

The government is erecting a 135 feet statue of Lord Buddha in the park, which is scheduled to be completed next year. The statue will be the largest of the Buddha in India and the project is aimed at boosting Buddhist pilgrimage tourism in Sikkim.

On December 20, the Dalai Lama will inaugurate a three-day seminar at Chintan Bhavan here on “brain and mind, our potential for change: modern cognitive sciences and eastern contemplative traditions”.

The seminar will be organised by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (NIT). The Dalai Lama was invited by the Sikkim government to inaugurate the seminar, which is expected to lay the foundation of the state’s efforts to formally introduce concepts of morality and ethics in school curriculum.

A public teaching from the Dalai Lama is also slated be held at Paljor Stadium here on December 21. The Dalai Lama will attend the closing ceremony of the NIT conference on December 22 before leaving Sikkim the next day.