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Worshiping Buddha at the Blambrang Monastery

2008年4月30日 0:15:56 sz12 Tours

During the last Spring Festival, I went with my wife, also a photographer, to the Blambrang Monastery in northwestern Xiahe County, Gansu Province, to photograph the Shining Buddha Festival, held every year in the first lunar month. The monastery is on a plateau 3,000 to 4,200 meters above sea level. It was built in 1710, the 49th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and is now one of the six major monasteries of the Ge-lug-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

We boarded a train in Beijing for Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, and arrived twenty-four hours later. Then we took a long-distance bus to Xiahe County. As soon as we arrived, we went out with our cameras to take photographs.

A festive feeling was floating in the air: merchants selling every variety of goods crowded the streets and lanes, lamas were busy preparing for the ceremony, and local Tibetan people in festival clothes gathered around the Blambrang Monastery.

The bustling scenes made me forget the fatigue of our long journey. I quickly took out my camera and fixed the lens on whatever inspired me. At that moment, the Blambrang Internet Club came into my viewfinder. No doubt about it: With the progress of society and the development of technology, the information boom has spread to every corner of China.

At dusk, my wife and I felt that our hearts were beating too fast, maybe because of the excitement or the altitude. We could not breathe smoothly, so we had to finish the day's work. The next morning, after a night of thorough rest, we felt our vigor restored, and we went to the Blambrang Monastery.

Before leaving Beijing, I had studied many books about the monastery. The Blambrang Monastery has a history of more than 280 years. It has six scripture rooms and 84 halls, resplendent and magnificent. Some halls are in the Tibetan style, and others are a blend of the Tibetan and the Han (Chinese majority). The walls are decorated with murals depicting scenes from Buddhist scriptures, and the painted pillars and embroidered portraits are of wonderful workmanship. The monastery serves not only as a center for worshiping Buddha but also as an art museum, so it is not surprising that many tourists and Buddhist followers from China and abroad come here.

That afternoon, as I was photographing a group of lamas, one of them came over to me, conveying a feeling of vigor in his sweet smile. I talked with him and learned that his name was Jiamoyang Jainco. He was a 19-year-old from the Tibetan ethnic group.

He invited me to visit his quarters at the residential section of the monastery. Out of respect for Buddhist doctrine, my wife did not come with me. His small house was clean and neat. On the left in the outer room was a stove, and on the right, a cupboard. In the inner room was a kang (heated brick bed), and on the kang were a quilt and a small square table.

Jiamoyang Jainco was a polite host. He offered me a seat beside the table and served me a cup of tea with a piece of rock candy. He told me he was born in a village of Xunhua County, Gansu Province. His parents were farmers, and he had two younger brothers. In 2000, after he failed his college entrance examination by one point, he came to the Blambrang Monastery to study Buddhism. The courses he studied every day included Buddhism and Tibetan language as well as English, mathematics, history, and Chinese literature. He had decided to devote himself to Buddhism, he said, and he wanted to be a Buddhist teacher one day. His expenses came to 200 or 300 yuan a month, and his everyday food included fried bread and other foods made of wheat along with vegetables and sometimes beef.

"Except for my expenses of 300 yuan per month," he told me, "I will donate my earnings to children suffering from poverty. This is my most cherished dream." I was happy to make friends with such a kindhearted person.
The Shining Buddha Festival is held on the 13th day of the first lunar month. We arose early and saw that the Blambrang Monastery was covered with a thin layer of snow, making it even more magnificent and beautiful.
My wife and I headed for the square where the festival was to be held. Many tents had already been put up there, and smoke from many fires curled upward. Gradually, more and more pilgrims converged there. Before long, a parade of lamas led by the Great Master of the Blambrang Monastery heralded the beginning of the ceremony on the side of the mountain facing the monastery. In front of the parade was a painted statue of the god of the land, and the lamas in the parade carried a rolled-up silk portrait of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, on their shoulders while chanting Buddhist scriptures. When the lamas unfolded the rolled-up cloth downward from the Shining-Buddha platform, a colorful silk portrait of Buddha, 100 meters long and 40 meters wide, presented itself before thousands of viewers.

Then came the height of the festival. Lamas were chanting Buddhist scriptures, and Buddhist believers were praying for blessings. I was impressed by the solemn scene and unconsciously joined them.

The magnificent structures, exquisite Buddhist statues, mysterious rites, and beautiful scenery at the Blambrang Monastery left a deep impression in my mind, but the people there touched me even more deeply. I found that all of them, lamas and common Tibetan people alike, longed for a bright future. I sincerely wish them a happy life.

Tag:Chinese Culture  

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