On Saturday, September 18, the Tibetan Meditation Center, located in Frederick, Maryland, hosted what is believed to be the first-ever Vajrayana monlam, or Great Prayer Festival, held in the United States. Organized by the International Buddhist Association (IBAA) and Khenpo Tsultrim Tenzin, the event gathered leaders from all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, including His Eminence Che-Nga Rinpoche, who led the ceremony; Kyabje Ado Rinpoche; Khenpo Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche; and Khenpo Konchok Monlam Rinpoche.

The event was held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST. While only monastics and a few special guests, including Secretary for the Office of Tibet Tashi Dhondup, attended in person because of COVID-19 safety precautions, most viewers tuned in via Zoom.

First U.S Vajrayana Monlam
First U.S Vajrayana Monlam | Photo courtesy of Wangmo Dixey

“This is a wonderful beginning to see the first Vajrayana Monlam being established with all four schools on the East Coast. We hope very much this is the beginning of all dharma brothers and sisters to come together under the precious teachings of the Buddhadharma,” IBAA president Wangmo Dixey told Tricycle after the event, expressing gratitude to the hosts and organizers.

The monlam started with a video message from Dixey, followed by video messages from four leaders of Tibetan Buddhism who gave thanks and shared hopes for the ceremony. Watch the messages from His Holiness the Gaden Tripa, His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, and His eminence Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in the video below. 

First Vajrayana Monlam (East Coast) International Buddhist Association of America (September 18th, 2021) from Wangmo on Vimeo.

As Dixey says in the video, her father, Venerable Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, helped establish the Nyingma Monlam Chenmo in Bodh Gaya 32 years ago, and it has since grown to see tens of thousands of practitioners. It has also been joined by monlams organized by the Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug traditions. Dixey has the same hopes for this monlam.

“We hope this is the beginning of a cycle of Vajrayana monlams on the East and then on the West Coast. May such good causes be the start of ever expanding cycles of wholesome activities here in the United States for the benefit of all beings.”

First U.S Vajrayana Monlam
First U.S Vajrayana Monlam | Photo courtesy of Wangmo Dixey
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