By Adrienne Chan
The Tibetan astrological calendar is based on a twelve year animal cycle: mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog and boar. The Chinese lunar calendar recognizes similar twelve animal years.
According to Tibetan culture, a female will experience obstacles on her specific birth year and the year following it. On the other hand, for a man obstacles are experienced on his birth year and the year before it.
Year 2013 represents the year of the Snake. Since His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (Dagchen Rinpoche) was born in the year of the Snake, his obstacle years are 2012 and 2013. Thus, last year many special prayers were recited to help remove obstacles and extend the long life of our beloved Head Lama. Last year the following Long Life Prayer services and Tenshug ceremonies were sponsored in Seattle: January 1, 2012– patron:Ven. Migyur Rinpoche; April 10, 2012 Gyap-shi Puja– patron: Sakya Monastery; and June 1- 2, 2012 prayers & Tenshug– patron:Tho Lu. During Dagchen Rinpoche’s October to mid-December 2012 Asian teaching tour, prayers and tenshug ceremonies were also offered to him. There were 5 tenshugs offered in Taiwan, 3 in Hong Kong and 7 in India. The largest tenshug was held at Dzongsar Chokyi Lodro College,India—thousands of monks and lay persons were in attendance. (for details on the various 2012 prayers and tenshug ceremonies, view the “2012 Sakya Monastery Chronicles” online).
Before Dagchen Rinpoche embarked on his 2012 Asian tour, Ven. Tulku Yeshi consulted the Tibetan Astrological calendar and determined that January 6-8, 2013 would be auspicious days for Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life prayers and a tenshug ceremony to be held in Seattle. Gillian Teichert, Tho Luu and Adrienne Chan were honored to sponsor that event.
The January 6 & 7 Long Life religious prayer services for Dagchen Rinpoche were especially exciting, for along with our resident lamas (Khenpo Jampa, Tulku Yeshi, Lama Migmar), Dagchen Rinpoche’s grandsons H.E. Avi Rinpoche, H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche and their teachers Yongzing Tashi Nyima and Yongzing Kungsang (all who reside in India) and grandson H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and his attendant monk Tashi Tenzin (both who reside in Nepal) participated in the services. On those days the Monastery was permeated with the sounds of spiritual chanting, horns, cymbals, large drums, bells, hand drums, etc. Joining the religious ensemble were Jetsun Chime Gyatso, Dagmo Kusho, Magnthu Gyatso, and other Monastery members.
The January 8th Tenshug event was even more memorable, as all of Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho’s sons (Minzu Rinpoche, Ani Rinpoche, Mati Rinpoche, Zaya Rinpoche, Sadu Rinpoche), all of their grandsons (Ananda Rinpoche, Avikrita Rinpoche, Abhaya Rinpoche, Asanga Rinpoche), 5 of their grandughters (Jetsumas), 2 of Dagchen Rinpoche’s sisters (Jetsumas) and all of their sons’ wives or Dagmos were in attendance. Specifically, Minzu Rinpoche and his wife, Dagmo Carol flew in from California. Ananda Rinpoche flew in from Vietnam.
Highlights of the Tenshug ceremony included Ven. Khenpo Jampa leading the service;
Ven. Tulku Yeshi Gyatso sharing a brief biography of H.H. JD Sakya;
HE Avikrita Rinpoche describing the complete 37 mandala offering; H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche reciting an explanation of the Body, Speech & Mind offering; HE Asanga Rinpoche requesting to H.H. JD Sakya that he live long; and H.H. JD Sakya’s response that he would live as long as he could teach. We were all ecstatic to hear that H.H. JD Sakya and the Sakya teaching would long endure!
The ceremony continued with the 7 and 8 auspicious offerings by Jetsuma & Dagmos.
Mandala offerings were then offered to Dagchen Rinpoche from the following groups: Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang, Sakya Monastery, Tibetan Association of Washington,
Sakya Heritage Foundation, Children’s Dharma School, Vietnam Sakya Center, Virupa Educational Institute, Earth Sanctuary, Nalanda Institure of Olympia, Tingkhye family, Gaga family, and Kunga Tseten from New York.
After the mandala offerings, a good wishes letter honoring H.H. JD Sakya from Khenpo Kalsang of Sakya Tsechen Kunchab Ling, NY, was read to the sangha.
Also on that special day, Dagchen Rinpoche’s two new great-grandson (3 month old twins: Dhungsey Nyima, Dhungsey Dawa) were also introduced. They are the sons of Ananda Rinpoche and Amanda.
The holy day concluded with a delicious lunch followed by traditional Khampa dancing and Tibetan songs. We merrily celebrated the Long Life of H. H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.