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The head Lama at Enchey, a quiet handsome and dignified gentleman who rarely speaks to visitors, honored me with a detailed conversation about his life* and about the monastery.
He mentioned that Enchey, unlike the other monasteries in Sikkim, is not a Tibetan monastery but a Sikkimese one. Buddhism originated in India and then went to Tibet, so at Enchey they follow the earlier form of Buddhism and not the Tibetan form. Losar being the Tibetan New year is not celebrated here.
However, since the date in the Buddhist calendar is significant, Enchey monastery organises a procession through the city in which a deity and 325 scriptures are taken out across the city.
The ‘palkhi’ temple mounted atop a car
At this monastery lamas of all ages congregate and I met one of the cutest baby lamas here.
The procession provided the most spectacular visual feast – with gorgeous hats, a varied display of unique musical instruments and beautiful ethnic faces. My Nikons and I felt like we were kids in a candy shop!
The preparations before the procession:
The devotees, men and women of all ages:
During the procession devotees along the way touch the scriptures to their foreheads to receive blessings. These scriptures are carried by high school children and monks.
The procession begins with devotees and monks emerge from the hall in which prayers have been chanted all morning, carrying the scrolls on their shoulders and heads.
The beautiful hats of the various ranks of Lamas:
The procession does one kora around the monastery and then leaves for the city…
Devotees and monks carrying the scrolls follow the deity. The band leads the procession.
The intoxication of the experiential feast stayed with me for hours and before I could recover from this one, another one unfolded at the next monastery the following day… wish there was enough time on these journeys to stop and savour every moment!
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* More about the Lama’s life in a separate article here