THE GREAT PRAYER FESTIVAL
In Tibet, at the beginning of Lunar New Year it was the tradition to make extensive offerings to large assemblies of sangha performing powerful prayers and practices for the new year. They are then requested to dedicate for various purposes. The dedications include including removal of obstacles to life, health, wealth and relationship. The prayers of the Sangha are believed to bestow a rainfall of success on career, relationship, business, harmony for oneself, all our family members as well as for the entire world.
The Monlam Tradition
The Great Prayer Festival was established by the Great Saint Lama Tsong Khapa (also known as Losang Drakpa) in 1409, first held in Lhasa. Lama Tsong Khapa at that time invited all the people of Tibet to a two-week-long festival of prayer, auspicious rituals, teachings, and celebrations, from the first new moon until the full moon of the lunar New Year. Many hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million streamed into Lhasa for these celebrations to observe the rituals and specially the debates that were held every day in front of the Potala.
Read more about the The Monlam Tradition here
The Great Prayer Festival Now
The noble tradition is preserved and is practiced in the same way to this day in most of the Gelug monasteries. On the full moon, the Day of Miracles is the highlight of the festival, when thousands of people, lay and ordained alike, come to pray, view the big butter sculptures, and make offerings to the Sangha. The main purpose of the Great Prayer Festival is to pray for the long life of all the holy Gurus of all traditions, for the survival and spreading of the Dharma in the minds of all sentient beings, and for world peace. The communal prayers, offered with strong faith and devotion, help to overcome obstacles to peace and generate favorable conditions for everyone to live in harmony.
Kopan Monastery has been hosting this event of all Gelug Monasteries in Nepal for the past fifteen year. Every year, ten days after the Tibetan New Year, monastics from all over Nepal gather here to make prayers, recite sutra texts, perform special rituals to remove hindrances to the welfare of all beings.
Join the Monlam
Everyone is welcome to join great occasion in person or by making offerings of food, tea, lights or money offering to the Sangha. Your names and dedications will be read to the assembly of Sangha in every prayer session over the five days. If you would like to accumulate extensive merits, this is a unique opportunity to to do so, by making offerings to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and to collect ocean-like merit, creating the cause for prosperity by practicing generosity.
All pujas, prayer ceremonies, food offering and cash offering for the Sangha for the five-day festival are open for sponsorship. Find more detail on making offerings at the prayerfestival here
The Monlam Prayer Festival 2017 takes place from March 9 - 14. The dates and program for the Monlam teachings have not been set yet.