By Tenzin Dechen
GANGTOK, Sikkim, 23 June 2013
Zamling Chisang [Tib འཛམ་གླིང་སྤྱི་བསང་] (Universal Prayer Day) was commemorated, perhaps for the first time in Gangtok, Sikkim, on Sunday at Chol-kha Sum Hall.
This day falls on the 15th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar every year. It is a day to celebrate Guru Rinpoche’s subjugation of local deities and the founding of Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first monastery.
The event was presided over by honoured guest Ven Choekhor Rinpoche of Sera Drophenling Monastery, Gangtok, and Mr Jigme Dorjee, Welfare Officer, Gangtok. Other guests and local Tibetans also participated in the event.
The day began with prayers for the long life of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for the well-being of all sentient beings. Sang sol (incense offering by burning juniper twigs and tossing roasted barley flour in the air) was given as an offering to the Dharma protectors’ deities and spirits of Tibet and the Himalayan region.
Mr Lobsang Dorjee, the chief organiser of the event, in his introductory speech emphasised that while the day is “highly significant from a religious and cultural point of view, at the same time it marks an important historical landmark in the annals of Tibetan history. It appears like this day is being observed in Gangtok for the first time.
“While our brothers and sisters in Tibet are self-immolating for the cause of religious freedom and for the cause of Tibet; we Tibetans living in free countries must take initiative in observance and participation in important days like today.”
Most Venerable Choekhor Rinpoche, the Special Guest of the event, addressed the gathering and explained the significance and historical background of Zamling Chisang.
He said that during the reign of the 38th king of the Yarlung Dynasty, the Emperor of Tibet, Trisong Detsen (742-797) invited Khenchen Boddhisattva (Santarakshita) from India to establish and propagate Buddha dharma into Tibet. At that time, Tibet was beset by local mountain deities obstructing the wishes of the Emperor. As per the advice of Santakrakshita, the Emperor invited Padmasambhava from India to help overcome the difficulties in sowing the seeds of Buddha dharma in Tibet. Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche used his tantric powers to subdue the evil deities and actually made them protectors of Tibet. Trisong Detsen then had Samye Monastery built in the 8th century, and it is the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet (779 AD). Subsequent ordination of first Buddhist monks in Tibet took place there.
After the successful completion of Samye Monastery, during the opening ceremony for it, Guru Rinpoche composed “GyaNgen Lha Sang” Sang Sol (incense offering) text for the local deities as a gift for their oath to protect Buddha dharma. From this the traditions of sang sol offering and Zamling Chisang celebration began.
The Chief Guest Mr Jigme Dorjee, the Tibetan Welfare Officer of Gangtok, applauded the initiative for organising the event for the first time in Gangtok. He further advised the need to maintain the continuity in organising this event.
The event was organised by Mr Lobsang Dorjee, who is a Tibetan filmmaker; Tsangdak Tashi Phuntsok, producer and director of Meylong 7 (a Tibetan weekly video news magazine in Gangtok); and Mr Sonam Topgyal, a social activist.
In the afternoon, films and movies related to the event and to Buddha dharma were screened to the public.