“The Rinpoches are coming! The Rinpoches are coming!”
That’s not what they were saying, but I likened the monks’ excited conversation and incessant runnings around to the American colonists’ excitement when Paul Revere rode through Concord announcing the arrival of the British.
I was handed three katas – Buddhist prayers scarves – and told I should roll up 50 or 100 rupees in each. I went to my room and fished some local currency out of my money pouch – not because I believed the blessing of the Rimpoches (supposed incarnations of gods) would bring me a lifetime of good luck, but because it seemed like the culturally sensitive thing to do, and because $3 USD wouldn’t break my budget. I then watched as a procession of monks in their “Sunday best” – really not a relevant term here as Sunday is just another work day in Nepal and holds no religious significance – paraded through the monastery, the finery of their ceremonial regalia indicating the significance of their visitors. Some oboe-clarinet-looking instruments, outfitted with segments of plastic straws for reeds, and the loud ringing of gongs and bells heralded the arrival of the three Rinpoches.
The Tibetan term Rinpoche means “Precious One” or “Treasured One” and is the title given to those who have been recognized as incarnations of great lamas (teachers). As I would learn first hand, Rinpoches are lauded by Buddhists and treated like kings by both the monks and lay people alike.
(see www.shirah.mobi for photos)