i Offering of a Long-Life Ceremony | Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Offering of a Long-Life Ceremony

Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India – Today, three groups of Tibetans offered a Long-Life Ceremony to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When, having driven from his residence in a golf-cart, His Holiness arrived at the gate, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, Jigmé Jungné—representing former members of staff of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)—Thubten Tsering—representing past and present staff of the Men-Tsee-Khang (the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute) and Lhakpa Tsering—representing the Association of Former Bodyguards—stepped forward to welcome him and offer him a ‘kata’ (a white silk scarf).

Performers from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in ornate costumes dance and sing on each side of the aisle as His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrives to attend a Long Life Prayer at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 11, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

Performers from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in ornate costumes danced and sang on each side of the aisle as His Holiness drove to the foot of the Tsuglagkhang (the Main Tibetan Temple). Offered the ‘chema changphu’ by way of welcome he took a pinch of tsampa and tossed it in the air. Another he ate. He dipped a finger into a cup of clear tea, which he tasted, and then accepted a sip of curd. He smiled and waved to well-wishers who filled the yard.

An estimated 7000 people attended the ceremony, including 1900 participants from the three groups of patrons. The temple had been elaborately decorated. Garlands of marigolds adorned the arch over the entrance to the courtyard and pillars within the temple were similarly festooned. Meanwhile pillars in the area around the temple were wrapped in brightly coloured cloth that will not perish and can be used again.

Presiding over the ceremony, and seated facing His Holiness, was Prof Samdhong Rinpoché. To his right sat Thamthog Rinpoché, Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Lobsang Dhargyey, present Lobpön of Namgyal Monastery and the former Lobpön. To his left sat Ösel Dorjé Rinpoché and three Geshés from Namgyal Monastery.

To begin with the Chantmaster led the congregation in reciting the ‘Prayer Concerning the Three Continuous Practices’ and then ‘Clouds of Ambrosia: a Prayer Invoking the Series of Reincarnations of Chenrezig’ composed by Trulshik Rinpoché. Tea and sweet rice were served.

The actual ceremony, which was based on White Tara, the Wish-fulfilling Wheel Granting Longevity, began with a visualization of the Lama arising in the form of White Tara. Prior to today, which saw the culmination of the ritual, Samdhong Rinpoché has been leading the congregation in collecting longevity mantras for the past five days. A refrain to the verses of prayers went, ‘May you extend the life of our glorious, sacred Lama by 100 aeons’.

Samdhong Rinpoché handing His Holiness the Dalai Lama a long-life arrow during the Long Life Prayer at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 11, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

At a certain point Samdhong Rinpoché stepped up to the throne to hand His Holiness a long-life arrow that he accepted and duly flourished. ‘Tsog’ was offered to him in the form of a huge ritual cake as a procession of offerings began to be carried through the temple. The protectors and guardians of Tibet, such as the Five Long Life Sisters, were invoked.

When it came to offering a mandala to request His Holiness to live long, the representative of the former CTA staff and the representative of former bodyguards held up the mandala base while Samdhong Rinpoché offered symbolic representations of the body, speech and mind of enlightenment; the vase of longevity; symbols of the Five Buddha Families; nectar; nectar pills; the seven royal emblems; the eight auspicious symbols; and the eight auspicious substances to His Holiness.

After the chanting of a prayer for His Holiness’s long life by his two Tutors and another by Jamyang Khyentsé Chökyi Lodrö, His Holiness addressed the congregation.

“Today, my Dharma friends have made this Long-Life Offering to me. I have dreamt of Palden Lhamo sitting on my shoulders and telling me that I would live to be a hundred years old or more. We Tibetans are in a difficult situation. I was born in far-off Do-Mé, but I have become quite well-known. I have done service to support the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings in terms of both scripture and realization. And I will live to be 100, so you can feel at ease about that.

“While we’re alive, as practitioners of the Buddhadharma, if we can cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta, the altruistic aspiration for enlightenment, and an understanding of emptiness, we will be making our lives worthwhile. As you know, I reflect on the awakening mind and emptiness every day. This is the best way to fulfil our goals. This is what will please Palden Lhamo. Cultivating these two principles as an offering of practice is the best offering we can make to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressing the congregation during the Long Life Prayer at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on June 11, 2024. Photo by Tenzin Choejor

“Today, in Tibet, China and other parts of the world, increasing numbers of people are paying attention to these two principles. Therefore, I urge you too to think about them every day. You have gathered here sincerely to offer this ceremony to me, but cultivating these two principles is the way to please me and the Buddhas.

“Today is my birthday according to the traditional reckoning. This is the fifth day of the fifth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which was the day on which I was born.”

The occasion was concluded by recitations of the ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Dharma’, prayers of auspiciousness, the prayer of the ‘Words of Truth’ and the dedication from the ‘Samantabhadra Prayer’.

Addressing the congregation once more His Holiness announced:

“This Long-Life Offering has been made by three groups: former members of staff of the CTA, past and present staff of the Men-Tsee-Khang and the Association of Former Bodyguards—I thank you all.”

With that His Holiness smiled, waved to the crowd, and left the temple to return to his residence.