XIGAZE, July 21, 2016 (Xinhua) -- The 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu delivers a sermon during the Kalachakra ritual in Xigaze, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 21, 2016. The first tantric Kalachakra instructions delivered by the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu formally started, with some 40 monks beginning a closed-door observance of Yidam, the Kalachakra deity, Thursday morning. The Kalachakra (the wheel of time) ritual includes a series of tantric teachings and initiations given by gurus to help Buddhists through the cycle of life. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)
XIGAZE, Tibet, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The first Kalachakra instructions delivered by the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu have formally begun, with some 40 monks beginning a closed-door observance Thursday morning.
The monks, from Labrang Lamasery in northwest China's Gansu Province and Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery in Xigaze, Tibet Autonomous Region, will perform the ritual every morning during the four-day event.
The Kalachakra (the wheel of time) ritual includes a series of teachings and initiations that are given by gurus to help Buddhists through the cycle of life.
This is the first time in 50 years that the ritual has been performed in Tibet.
To embrace the grand event, Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the home temple of Panchen Lamas, started preparations one month ago. In Zhaxi Lhunbo last December, the 11th Panchen Lama celebrated the 20th anniversary of his enthronement.
Currently serving as vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, the 11th Panchen Lama has received some 1,000 initiations and performed head-touching blessings for about 1.5 million Buddhists.
Latest statistics showed more than 100,000 people have attended the ritual held in the New Palace of Panchen Lama near Zhaxi Lhunbo, including 5,000 monks and nuns and 100 lamas.
After overnight rainfall and intermittent drizzling, the meadow in the New Palace of Panchen Lama turned muddy and slippery. Still, people swarmed into the venue at noon to hear the public instruction and initiations scheduled each afternoon.
Before the afternoon session started, monks in crimson-colored robes carried dozens of huge kettles to pour hot tea for participants to help them dispel the cold. Barley biscuits were also distributed by monks to the excited crowd.
A volunteer put cypress branches and barley powder brought by devotees into a yellow stove and burned them to pray for an auspicious ritual.
After the 11th Panchen Lama ascended to his silk-covered throne in the afternoon, senior monks from the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery presented traditional Tibetan offerings to him.
The 11th Panchen Lama then led the chanting of scripture, with 100 senior monks kowtowing in front of the throne.
The crowd of pilgrims started to throw hada, a silk cloth, toward the 11th Panchen Lama as a greeting. Quickly, hadas piled up in front of the crowd.
In his opening remarks, the 11th Panchen Lama called the rainfall "an auspicious sign," mentioning that it also rained once when the 10th Panchen Lama held a ritual.
At that time, the 10th Panchen Lama explained that the rain indicated purification, said the 11th Panchen Lama, reminding the elderly to keep warm on the rainy day.
Sitting on the ground and with prayer beads in hand, Tsering Wangla from Geding Township of Sagya County, Xigaze, said that the cold and drizzle were "not hardships at all," and he rejoiced at the event "from the bottom of his heart."
The 41-year-old farmer woke up at half past five on Thursday morning to prepare for the excursion. It was also his first time to participate in such a ritual.
Tsering, 20, a driver from Namling County, Xigaze sat in the back. He took two days off so he could attend the ritual, which lasts until July 24.
Hearing the Kalachakra first from his parents when he was small, Tsering said he had wished to hear the precious teaching for a long time and was very happy to join in the ritual.
"I didn't expect there to be so many people, and I have to watch from the distance," he said.
Aga, a 51-year-old herder from Nagqu in northern Tibet, listened attentively to the instructions of the 11th Panchen Lama.
"Receiving the Kalachakra initiation from Panchen Lama is really a hard-won blessing," he said.
Monk Shera Phuntsog from Hao Lamasery in Xigaze also treasured the instructions of the 11th Panchen Lama.
He said that the first-day instruction was very important as it addressed the proper motivations followers must have when seeking dharma from teachers as well as the commandments they must keep.
To ensure the smooth operation of the grand event and offer convenience for participants, a dozen temporary water stations and toilets have been built.
Some 50 doctors and nurses from local hospitals have been assembled in 11 medical squads to provide emergency aid when necessary and manage sanitation control.
No major emergency treatment was performed on the first day, according to Sogdoi from the Xigaze Health Bureau.