Sikkim's Buddhist community holds prayer for world peace

ANI, March 13, 2005

Gangtok, Sikkim (India) -- Sikkim's predominant Buddhist community held an auspicious ceremony prayer for world peace in a newly build monastery in Gangtok over the weekend.

The prayer was led by Tulku sang- ngag Rinpoche who is recognized as the Dzogchen master and a master of Buddhist ritual art as well. This includes stupa construction, divination, geomancy and Tibetan medicine.

" This prayer is being held for long life of humanity. This is not isolated to our society but it is for all the human beings. For the well being of today's era of violence and unpleasant environment, we are holding this prayer," said Karma Namgyal (Vice President) of Sikkim Buddhist Association.

Buddhism in Sikkim has strong links to the Buddhism practiced by Tibetans, which is divided into the "Red" and "Yellow" sects. The Red sect comprises of the Nyingma, Kargyu and Sakya lineages and the Yellow sect consists of the Gelugapa lineage.

The sects and lineages are differentiated from each other by the rituals and prayers performed, the monastic discipline promoted and who is the founder of a particular sect or lineage. However, the differences tend to blur with rituals of one lineage do overlap with the other.

Monastries and many buildings in Sikkim are richly decorated with symbols and icons. These symbols are painted or embossed on the walls or on Tankas. These paintings may depict the life of Buddha or some Tibetan saint, the Wheel of of Life or a diety surrounded by lesser deities.

The original inhabitants of Sikkim are said to be Lepchas. They existed much before the Bhutias and Nepalese migrated to the state. Before adopting Buddhism or Christianity as their religion, the earliest Lepcha settlers were believers in the bone faith or mune faith. This faith was basically based on spirits, good and bad.