Notes of a traveller

Alan Dodds – photographer (among other things)

Notes of a traveller


A surprise festival … at least to us.

Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 at 12:21 am

For two long term buddhist practitioners we are surprisingly ignorant of the traditional Buddhist festivals and holi-days. In my last blog I reflected on our morning walk; the long circumambulation around the hill on which Dalai Lama’s temple and home are located.

Usually there are ten or a dozen beggars around the trail … we know them all quite well by now. Those with no legs or stumps for hands; Theravaden monks with their alms bowls; young Indian mothers nursing a small child in their arms; the odd Sadu with matted hair and trident; persistent, dusty little girls sent out as runners; the blind man in the temple. The number a fellow walkers is mostly fairly small as well.

Well … imagine our surprise today when the whole atmosphere of the walk has changed completely. It starts as we approach the gates to the temple where there seem to be more than the usual one or two beggars and continues all the way around. Literally hundreds of beggars are lining the road and both sides of the path wherever they will fit. Hundreds of people are walking the path with us, distributing alms, mainly of money, but also of food and sweets by the bagful. What a surprise for us!

Had we known of course, it wouldn’t be such a surprise because it was the first full moon in May and this is the Saga Dawa festival, the Tibetan version of the celebration which will be happening in most of the Buddhist world – Vesak – the celebration of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death all on one day. A definite party atmosphere prevails and the givers have their hands full of money or goodies to distribute.

The mass beggars line up ready to receive alms.

The mass beggars line up ready to receive alms.

Where have they all come from? Many have obviously been there overnight; there are cooking pots and fires in evidence, but they can’t possibly all be from MacLoud Ganj. It’s time for reflection to try and see what is going on here.

Bring the children along.

Bring the children along.

It’s obviously a family affair …

Bring the whole family!

Bring the whole family for a day out!

Families of all sorts …

Another sort of family.

Another sort of family.

These guys are regulars … interesting though that they seem to spend most of their days looking for alms … is that traditional? However, the most striking thing is that almost all (maybe actually all) of the recipients are Indian and almost all the alms givers are Tibetan. Really interesting to see such a turn around from my visit here 40 years ago (wow … that long!) when the Tibetans were the struggling ones and the recipients of Indian charity.

Another of the regulars.

Another of the regulars – nice legs!.

By contrast we are now round to the temple and inside we see different families …

Sleek and glossy ... young tibetan women

Sleek and glossy … young tibetan women

The inner temple where the monks are chanting away and the sand mandala has been completed. Traditionally tibetan tea was served from a steaming pot to wet chanting throats but these days it’s cans of sugar water!

Sugar water

Sugar water

Anyway, who gives a monkey’s …..

Bliss!

Bliss!

The butter lamps keep burning ….

Endless butter lamps

Endless butter lamps

Some like to wait …

We're ready

We’re ready

Other’s take pictures …

Smile please :-)

Smile please 🙂

… or take the dogs for a walk …

Good doggies

Good doggies

One thing is for sure though … on this day love is everywhere … and long may it remain so.

May you all be well and happy … Alan

For Jacqui’s take on our little Indian trip go here although we are not necessarily in sync with our entries!

All you need is love ... dah de dah de dah

All you need is love … dah de dah de dah (sung to a well known tune)

 


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