Chapter 3: Preparations for the Lama
Where is it…
Yuramay thought to himself while scavenging through the room he shared with his little brother.
“Found it!” he exclaimed as he opened up a box and took out what was inside.
Dechen followed the voice of his brother to their room and found him holding in the air a wrapped yellowish silk cloth.
“What’s that for?” He questioned, peeking into the room while holding his wooden toy.
“It’s a khata, also known as an offering scarf.”
The villagers have heard about a very famous lama who was travelling the region and was staying at a close by monastery. Scholars were making some preparations to invite the Lama to visit the village in hopes that he would accept and offer his teachings and religious empowerment rituals. While the scholars were busy with preparing the letter, many other members of the community were making food preparations and other sorts for when and if the Lama agreed to come.
“If the Lama agrees to come, I plan on giving this as one of our offerings.”
“How do you give it? Is he supposed to wear it?”
“Well, you give it like this,” Yuramay motioned for Dechen to come closer so that he could demonstrate. Yuramay placed the toy on the ground, and the scarf into his hands.
“With your hands folded like this, you place it near your forehead and you bow before them. Make sure your head is bent over and your palms are joined, to show respect.”
Dechen followed his brother’s instructions.
“Will he keep it?”
“Sometimes, those who offer khatas will receive it back, typically as a token of blessing. So, if you give this to the Lama, and you get it back, it should be cherished and kept as it will then be a very special blessing. Somewhat like a talisman and protector.”
Yuramay taught Dechen many things. He was still young, but he was already quite mature for his age. Dechen was beginning to learn more and more about the Buddhist traditions, especially in Tibetan culture. Dechen never really embraced the notion of religion until recently, seeing how important it was to his older brother.
“Let’s put this away for now,” Yuramay set the scarf aside for when the Lama would visit. “If he comes, you can be the one to offer it to him, okay?”
“Now, let’s get ready for bed.”
The next day the two brothers were having lunch at the table. While Dechen was munching on some yak cheese, he asked what other preparations should be made for the arrival of the Lama.
“Well, as you know, the scholars of our village are preparing a letter.” Yuramay starts.
“That letter is then received by the secretary or organization surrounding the Lama. If the Lama accepts, they will then arrange the visit according to their schedule, and then we’ll receive a letter of acceptance. Before then, we can prepare the temple. The temple which he will visit must be swept inside and out. The entrance as well should have white chalk drawings of 8 different offerings. These will include a lotus, a conch shell, a dharma wheel, an endless knot, an offering vase, an umbrella, a gold fish and victory banner. Also, the temple should have clean offering bowls filled with washing water, drinking water, incense, flowers, food and music. The throne should have comfortable cushions and the private quarters should have bowls of fruit, flowers and more clean offerings on the private shrine.”
“That’s a lot stuff to do,” Dechen remarked.
“Yes, but it’s what is needed. Preparing for a Lama to arrive is much, much work and it is the responsibility of the community to make sure that all that is needed to be done gets done. Although there are many preparations to be made, such as what we are doing, in the end it is all for good being. This also brings the community together since we’re all helping eachother with the preparations.”
“I agree with that!” Dechen continued eating and Yuramay was happy to know that his brother was looking forward to the visit just as much as he was.
Throughout the week, Yuramay made even more preparations. He kept a positive mind about the Lama, and even prepared a small donation in an envelope. He set aside some food as offerings and of course the scarf that Dechen would be giving himself to the Lama. Surely members of the community were also preparing just as diligently. Yuramay was even getting better as a farmer, learning new techniques in growing crop, and may even starting raising some animals. As a trader, he collected some amulets which he stored away for the future, and even procured some herbs which he thought would be useful to the villager doctors or ritualists if they needed.
Yuramay was looking quite forward to the Lama and what great things having him visit could do for the community.