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The Story of the Tawang Monastery

06 Apr,2023 05:44 PM, by: Manash Pratim Bora
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Tawang Monastery also known as GaldenNamgeyLhatse in Tibetan is the largest Buddhist Monastery in India and the second largest in the world. Located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, the monastery lies in the valley of the Tawang river in the Northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Tawang Monastery is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. It was founded by Merak Lama Gyatso in 1680-81 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, NgawangLobsangGyatso.

The monastery contains living quarters, a museum, institutions, and libraries. It holds a capacity of 700 monks and is currently home to around 400 lamas.

The History

In Tibetan ‘Ta’ means ‘horse’ and ‘wang’ means ‘chosen’. Thus Tawang means chosen by a horse. According to the legends, Merak Lama was having difficulty about choosing where the Monastery should be built. So he halted near a cave and prayed in it seeking divine guidance. When he came out he found his horse missing. After searching for a while, he came to find the horse grazing at the top of the mountain. He realized his prayer has been answered and decided to build the monastery at the very spot. The full name of the Monastery is thus TawangGaldenNamgyeLhatse. It means ‘The site chosen by the Horse is the divine celestial paradise’.

 A bit about the Architecture of the place

Entrance and outer walls

At the entrance of the Monastery, there is a Kakaling, which is a colourful gate-like structure. It is basically a ‘hut-like structure’, with its side walls built of stone masonry. The interior walls of the Kakaling have murals of divinities and saints painted on them. The roof features Mandalas. Ahead of the main gate of the Kakaling to its south is another entry which consists of a huge wall on the main entrance of the Monastery. The outer wall is 925 feet in length, with heights varying from about 10-20 feet.

Main Buildings:

The Monastery is three storied. It is like a large mansion. There is a large assembly hall, ten other functional structures, and 65 residential quarters for students, lamas, and monks.

Main Temple:

The main temple is known as the Dukhang. ‘Du’ means ‘assembly’ and ‘Khang’ means ‘building’. It was built in the year 1860-61. It also has an 18 feet image of the Buddha which is highly decorated.

Festivals celebrated in the Tawang Monastery

Choksar, Losar, and Torgya are the main festivals that are celebrated in the monastery.

Choksar: 

In this festival, the Lamas recite religious scriptures in the monasteries. Following this, the villagers carry the scriptures on their backs and circumambulate their Agricultural land. They seek blessings for the good yield of crops without any infestations by pests and to protect against attacks by wild animals.

Losar: 

The festival marks the beginning of the Tibetan New Year. During this festival, people visit the Monastery to offer prayers.

Torgya: 

The festival is also called Tawang- Torgya. It is an annual festival that is exclusively held in the monastery. The objective of the festival is to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity and happiness to the people in the ensuing year.

The monastery is a must-visit site for those of you who want to explore the Northeast and obviously if you are spiritually inclined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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