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Friday, 7 August 2009

Tashi Lhunpo

The concert I was going to tell you about yesterday before I got caught up in a rant…..was amazing, and as someone was heard to say, “powerful stuff”.

To start with, as their website explains: “Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the principal monastery of the U-Tsang Province in Tibet, is one of the Great Six centres of the Gelugpa tradition. Tashi Lhunpo was founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drup in 1447, and became the largest, most vibrant monastery in Tibet.” Today, the new Tashi Lhunpo monastery is located in South India where 300 or so Tibetan monks are in exile since the Chinese invasion of their country. If you click on the link, or here you can read about the monastery and its story, and also see better pictures than the ones I took – without the flash – at the concert.

The concert involved 9 monks demonstrating the chants and prayers they use on a daily basis within the monastery, as well as some of the ceremonial mask dances, which show off the beautiful masks and costumes. Each item we saw was described by an English commentator, given its title, and the reasons for the prayer, chant or dance, along with what the symbolism is for each

These are my photos but you can see better ones on the website. tibetan monks

At the beginning of the evening after a loud introductory fanfare on the long horns,

ttibetan monks2he pictures of the Dalai Lama and the Pand the Panchen Lama were ceremoniously brought in and set up on the table or altar. The costumes in the first two photos show the monks in their usual robes,

tibetan monks3 while these next ones demonstrate the beauty of the ceremonial robes.




tibetan monks4

ansHere you can see some of the beautiful masks used in several of the performances.

tibetan monks9


This I believe is one of the Lords of the Cemetery.


During this meditative chant (below) the monks used very expressive hand movements throughout. It is apparently said that if you witness this chant you will not be tibetan monks11 


reincarnated into one of the lower orders! Several musical instruments such as bells, cymbals, drums and  pipes are also used in some of the chants and prayers.

 tibetan monks13The sounds are alien to us, but are nonetheless…. enchanting, is that the word I’m looking for?. They are definitely very moving, and although the monks had said that they were comfortable with applause from the audience, somehow it felt the wrong thing to do. tibetan monks10

Here’s the drum being hit with the curved stick while the monk also holds and plays the cymbals.


And at the end of the show, they came on stage once more in another ceremonial performance during which they sprinkled grains of rice (held in their left hands, see below) into the air. It used to be flower petals that were used but for now they used rice.tibetan monks15

See more of the costumes here, and more pictures of the monks here.

It was a delightful evening, when the soul really felt lifted!

Talk again soon.


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