The Kagyu Monlam is a major international prayer festival held annually in Bodhgaya, India, one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists worldwide. Thousands of people gather together in order to listen to Buddhist teachings and to pray for peace and harmony on earth and the well-being and happiness of all the world. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, presides over the festival.
History: Though the Kagyu Monlam belongs fully to the contemporary world, its
roots lie in 15th-century Tibet, where the 7th Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso, established
the tradition of great prayer gatherings. People from all over Tibet assembled
annually to pray for the benefit of all sentient beings. In India, the Monlam tradition
began in 1983, when two great lamas in the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism,
Kalu Rinpoche and Bokar Rinpoche, began holding annual prayer gatherings at the
Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya.
After the 17th Karmapa assumed responsibility for the festival in 2004, he brought in
many innovations, creating the international festival that exists today. Under his
leadership, the size and scope of the event have increased greatly. Recent
Monlams have been attended by approximately 7,000 monks and nuns, supported
by more than 3,000 lay followers. Many special events such as empowerments draw
crowds of more than 12,000 Buddhists.
From its humble beginnings, the Monlam has become a truly international prayer
festival, meeting the needs of an international Buddhist community. Followers travel
to Bodhgaya to join the Monlam not only from across India, Nepal and the Himalayan
region, but from more than 50 different countries in South Asia, North America and
South America, Africa and Europe. In addition, thousands of devotees worldwide
watch the webcast of the festival live via Internet. The special book of prayers,
compiled by the Karmapa, is available in 13 languages— in the original Tibetan, and
in Hindi, Nepali, English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Polish, Russian,
Indonesian, Korean, and Vietnamese. Oral translation into these languages is
available over FM radio at the events themselves and on the webcast. In
recognition of the origins of Buddhism in India and its connection with ancient Indian
culture, the Karmapa has re-instated the use of Sanskrit and traditional Indian
liturgical settings for core prayers.
His Holiness has also introduced charitable activities in the local area during the
Monlam. These have included cleaning the area and planting trees to protect the
natural environment, providing a source of safe drinking water near the Mahabodhi
Temple, free medical care for local people, and a veterinary camp with an outreach
program for their animals. During the Monlam, monks and nuns follow the ancient
tradition of the Karmapa’s Great Encampment (Garchen) in Tibet, living in tents and
sharing vegetarian meals from a huge communal kitchen.
The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s Aspiration for the Kagyu Monlam
I make this aspiration that when you recite these prayers during the Monlam, each
word may first arise in your heart, and then emerge from your mouth. I pray that
every letter and syllable becomes a golden image and that every word fills the entire
world. May all the sounds of lament and war as well as the poisonous winds in the
environment be dispelled. May these words of love and compassion blend with the
innate goodness of every single being and coalesce into one powerful force. Like the
light of the sun, moon and stars, may love, compassion and wisdom shine forth. May
they strike every single living being and dispel the darkness of ignorance, attachment
and hatred that has lurked for ages in their being. When any living being meets
another, may it be like the reunion of a mother and child after a long separation. In a
harmonious world such as this, may I see everyone sleep peacefully to the music of
non-violence. This is my dream.
Everyone is welcome to attend the Kagyu Monlam, free of charge. There is no online
registration for the event. For security reasons, all participants must register in
person at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion in order to receive a participant card. The
registration schedule will be posted at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion and on the Tergar
Monastery bulletin board before the event starts. You will need to bring your
passport and one passport-size photo with you.
Please note: Those people who are participating in Soulful Tours mindfulness
retreat during the 35 th Kagyu Monlam we are taking care of your registration.
Location: Kagyu Monlam Pavilion Bodhgaya, Bihar 824231, India
1. We encourage all attendees to become members of the Kagyu.
Monlam. Membership costs $150USD and affords many benefits, including a meal
plan during the Monlam. You can also become a member of Kagyu Monlam if you
wish to support the event but are unable to attend in person.
2. General or specific offerings, please check Kagyu Monlam Sponsorship
3. For ordained sangha registration information, please
4. For layperson group registration information, please
5. Travel options to and from Bodhgaya.
6. Book your accommodation
Kagyu Monlam Schedule 2018:
Pre-Monlam Teachings on The King of Samadhi Sutra February 22–24, 2018
35th Kagyu Monlam February 26–March 5, 2018
Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering March 8–25, 2018
Travel Guide to Bodhgaya: https://soulfultours.com/practical-advices-
Soulful Tours is organising a retreat tour: Attending 35th Kagyu Monlam and mindfulness retreat in Bodhgaya
More detail: https://soulfultours.com/tour/attending-35th-kagyu-monlam-mindfulness-retreat-bodhgaya/