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In Conversation With Reach Ladakh

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In Conversation with Dr. Tundup regarding Kalachakra (Tuskor wangchen)
By Reach Ladakh Correspondent, Monday, May 19, 2014

Leh: Dr Tondup Tsewang, is the President of Ladakh Buddhist Association who is the main organiser of the 33rd Kalachakra Initiation event which is going to be held in Ladakh. His Holiness will be giving the Kalachakra Initiation at the request of the Ladakh Buddhist Association in July starting from 3rd to 14 July, 2014. This is the third time Kalachakra is being held in Ladakh. The first Kalachakra was held in September 1976 and second was held in July 1988 in Zanskar and the third will be held in July this year.

The people of Ladakh are very fortunate as Kalachakra Initiation is being held here for the third time and all should come forward to help the organising committee in whatever ways they can. There are still many more help needed from the public and all should join hands in making it a grand success.

Q. In the history of Ladakh, Kalachakra is going to be held for the third time in Ladakh after September 1976 & July 1988 in Zanskar. What is the meaning of Kalachakra and what is its importance.

A. This is the 33rd Kalachakra that is going to be held for the third time in Ladakh from 3rd to 14th July. The first Kalachakra was held in the year 1976 and second in Zanskar in 1988. This ritual holds great significance as it is the most sacred teaching for Buddhist for individual peace, unity, tranquillity and happiness for all beings.

Kalachakra means ‘cycles of time’. The Kalachakra system presents three such systems, first one is the external cycle and second one is the internal cycle and both of these deals with time. The third one is the alternative cycle that is for gaining liberation from the previous two. Keeping in mind the present scenario, we all including people from different faiths need this offering. Since we all exist in co-existence where people from different faith live in unity, solidarity that ultimately leads to world peace.  Kalachakra does not pertain to Buddhist community only but people of all faith where people from across the world will participate.

Q. What will be the schedule of the daily programme?

A. The Kalachakra teaching will begin from 3rd July and conclude on 14th July. During the first three days of the Kalachakra, from July 3 to 5, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with the monks of Namgyal Monastery and senior lamas, will conduct rituals which prepare and consecrate the venue. These include chanting of prayers, creation of the sand mandala and other rituals. From July 6 to 8, His Holiness will give preliminary teachings on Nagarjuna's Letter to a Friend. On July 9, the Kalachakra Ritual Dance will be performed by the monks of Namgyal Monastery. His Holiness will confer the Kalachakra Initiation from July 10 to 13. On July 14, a long life empowerment (tsewang) and a ceremony offering prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be performed.

Q. What is the expected toll of people visiting this year for the event?

A.  In 1976, only around 30,000- 40,000 people visited but this year we are expecting around 1.5 lakh people from all over the world. Of which around 80,000 would be people across Ladakh, 7,000 to 8,000 monks from across India and world, around 20,000 foreigners, VIPs, VVIPs, and other dignitaries, 10,000 to 15,000 Tibetans from different parts of the world and security personals.

Q. What would be the transportation and accommodation facilities?

A. There are hotels, guest houses and home stay arrangements near the venue and also tent system. We are also seeking help from army, truck and taxi union and many agencies have come forward to give transportation free of cost and to some of them we will be paying.

Q. What would be the medical facilities, drinking water and toilet facilities for the devotees?

A. The medical department and Mentse-khang will be providing medical aid if necessary.  District administration and LAHDC has been helping to install all the pipe lines and pumps and also arrangements would be there regarding the toilets. Public and community level helps are also needed.

Q. Are you keeping a check on the rate list of the hotels, guest houses, home stays and shops?

A. In Ladakh Buddhist Association, we have the youth wing, women wing and Gonpa Association with the help of police department will be keeping a check on the rate list of hotels, shops and guest houses. We will make sure that the fare should not exceed the normal fare. LBA and LGA are the main organisers, Jonang Welfare Society Dharamshala and Congpo in and outside Tibet people are the co-sponsors.

Q. What is the work and progress status for this grand occasion? Are we still in shortage of expenditure and need help from the public.

A. The LAHDC and district administration are supporting us in developing the venue in terms of infrastructure (stage, water, toilets etc). Hopefully by the end of May we would be able to complete the venue in all respect.

Q. Would there be special arrangements for dignitaries, monks and nuns?

A. Yes, there will be special arrangements for the venerable monks as well as nuns. The monks would be accommodated at Ladakh Gonpa Association Dhamma Centre and for nuns we have made arrangements in Mahabodhi Campus. For the dignitaries and VVIPs they would be put up in hotels for which the hotels and guest houses have come forward to support us by providing one room for the guests free of cost.
Q. Who will be the main stake holders of this event?

A. The main stakeholders are the people of Ladakh in particular the Buddhist community and other communities are also voluntarily helping in this event. We have cordial relationship among all the communities.

We have formed a Kalachakra organising committee where the eminent are the public representatives or the monk’s representative. Total we have 26 members in the organising committee. Apart from this we have the Anjuman Imamiya, Anjuman moin ul Islam, Hindu Sabha, Guruduwara prabandh and Christian committee are the co-opted members, district administration DC, SSP and political leaders, government and private officials.

Q.  Preparations for Kalachakra has already begin, what else help is needed from the public to make it a grand success.

A. Since the event is a community involvement that too voluntarily unlike the ones held in other parts of the country. The people of Ladakh are the stakeholders and we are just guiding them. To make this event a grand success we need unity, support, solidarity, coordination, collaboration and voluntarily financial support.

Q. Who is financing the event? How are you raising the funds needed for this project?

A. The Kalachakra organising committee is an apex body that is the policy and decision making body. Under this body we have constituted a number of committees like fund raising committee, purchase committee and audit committee etc. There are more than 50 committees and sub-committees under this body. The fund raising committee raise the fund by volunteer contribution as chindak (sponsor), through individual donors, foreign sponsors, outside Ladakh individual chindak (sponsor) and foreign donation under Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) for which LBA has got the account number.

Q. Who will be dignitaries invited.

A. Many government and private officials would be there. We might extend an invitation to the President of India, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister, ministers, foreign guests especially the world fellowship of Buddhists, sanghas, monks, nuns, Rinpoches, head of different sects of Buddhism.

Q. What kind of support do you need from the students and general public in the preparation?

A. The foremost thing is discipline from the students and general public, holistic approach and would request all the people to avoid intoxicant during these holy days and observing shila (rules or moral precepts), moral and financial support and public involvement. The LBA youth in collaboration with other communities and Ngo’s would be handling all theses.  Effective crowd management, deliverance and the venue would be made comfortable for the public.

Q. Message to the people for this occasion.

A. This event is important not only from religious point of view but from the tourism and cultural point of view as well. As, Ladakh is rendered with rich tradition and culture and amazing flora and fauna, one must be cordial, hospitable and be frank and positive in their approach and not to take the advantage of the situation. The people must inculcate these values and reflect the beauty of the land and most importantly is the beauty of the people for which Ladakh has always been famous.

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