By Tara Melwani
Six-year-old Cherok Lama stole the hearts of the 150 guests at a fundraiser in Singapore, organized by Tara Melwani, for the benefit of the young children and lamas of the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal (a project coordinated by Amy Miller of Vajrapani Institute in California). The reincarnation of a great meditator of the area, “he took his duties as guest of honor seriously,” said Tara.
After four months of planning and with a committee of five good friends, our Light to Lawudo fundraising event for the education of young children and lamas in the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal took place at my residence last October.
We wanted to create a very special and memorable evening for our 150 guests, who were primarily non-Dharma and who have had very little exposure to Tibetan culture. As they entered my home, they first came to the mandala room where four monks from Kopan Monastery had created an exquisite sand mandala of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. They had worked ten hours a day for eight days to complete it. People were in awe of the absolutely breathtaking workmanship.
In the courtyard, an hour later, the monks did a Black Hat dance accompanied by two monks on cymbals and horns. Then the ceremony for the dismantling of the mandala was performed, the significance explained by emcee Aliki Nicolaides. The idea that this work of art was to be destroyed caused some people to cry!
Guests were then ushered into the dining room, which had been converted into an exhibition of Tibetan antiques. An auction of antiques – such as thangkas, Tibetan chests and rugs – was a huge hit, with people competing good-naturedly as bids escalated. The antique store owners Susanna Goho and Lawrence Khor were extremely generous, offering all net profits to Light to Lawudo.
Dinner was a sit-down affair catered by the Hyatt under the starts in the garden. Three-foot bamboos holding white orchids were the centerpieces on all tables, and fusion (East-West) food was served. After dinner, an audiovisual presentation transported our guests to Solu Khumbu, where they could experience the life and times of the Sherpas, the children of Lawudo. The audiovisual show was put together beautifully by a friend at Discovery Channel, and the slides Amy provide were from numerous people who had visited Lawudo.
The high point of the evening was six-year-old Cherok Lama, who charmed everyone by giving out blessing strings and his name card! Curious guests lined up to offer him a khata, for many a first-time experience. He confidently made a speech at the end of the slide show to thank guests for attending and supporting Lawudo. He received a standing ovation for his one-minute speech.
We also had a lucky draw, the first prize being a ticket to Nepal courtesy of Royal Nepal Airlines and a three-night stay at the Hyatt Hotel.
We happily raised close to $28,000 (S$66,000) for the monks, nuns and lamas of Lawudo.
All dedication goes to my dearest guru, the Lawudo Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
THE LAWUDO RETREAT FUND
At the instigation of the Lawudo lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, a school for the local children is being started at Lawudo in Solu Khumbu, Nepal, a tiny hamlet tucked into the side of a mountain, fourteen thousand feet up, and built around a small cave that is the home of the Lawudo lama. Two thousand feet down the mountain is the major town of Namche Bazaar.
When Rinpoche visits the area, where his previous incarnation meditated for thirty years, the local people bring him their children, requesting Rinpoche to take them to Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. Now that Kopan is so crowded, Rinpoche has decided to start a school at Lawudo, and eventually a monastery. On his most recent visit last year Rinpoche accepted twenty-five children.
“The dedication of Tara Melwani and her friends to the Lawudo Retreat Fund’s educational potential is tremendous,” said Amy Miller.
“Right now, the funds they raised in Singapore are being used to renovate the buildings at Lawudo, especially the gompa, which will be used as the main classroom. I am truly grateful for their huge enthusiasm.”Tags: cherok lama, lawudo