One of Norbulingka Institute’s proudest achievements to crown its tenth anniversary was to organize the 30th Kalachakra Empowerment to be given by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The event took place in Amaravati, an ancient Buddhist site in Andhra Pradesh, in south eastern India, that Tibetan scholars consider the place where the Buddha first revealed the Kalachakra tantra.
Preparations began in the spring of 2005. The institute took full responsibility for organizing all aspects of the event. This involved working with the local and state authorities to establish the necessary infrastructure for a large gathering, securing facilities and accommodations for attendees, and registering participants. In April of 2005 an organizing committee was formed that appointed a team to begin the necessary groundwork. First of all, they created a website where the public could follow the project’s progress, register to attend and book accommodations. Members of the organizing committee visited the site regularly to monitor developments. By September, an office had been set up in Amaravati and preparation of the site had begun under the supervision of local authorities.
In total, 320 of the 420 Norbulingka staff played a role in the event. In December almost the entire administration of the institute was relocated to Amaravati, where they occupied a new office adjacent to the site. They dealt with accounting, purchasing, media and public relations. Under the supervision of the Chonor House staff four kitchens were set up to cook for two restaurants, one VIP refectory and one staff canteen. These were operated by a total of 120 people, including students, tailors and thangka painters, ensuring that over two thousand people were able to eat. The pavilion style tent, from which His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave the teachings, was made by the tailors and erected in December by a team of thangka painters and tailors under the direction of our late master Gyen Tenchoe la.
One team worked in the campsites, receiving guests as they arrived around the clock as early as the 25th of December. Another team was responsible for receiving pilgrims arriving directly from Tibet, who were unfamiliar with the heat of South India. The public relations department handled the media and briefed the press daily.
It is estimated that more than one hundred thousand people gathered in Amaravati. Almost twelve thousand came from Tibet, while many more arrived from across India including Ladakh, Spiti, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as seventy-two other countries including Bhutan, Nepal and China. A colorful array of people in widely varying attire filled the streets of the normally sleepy village. As the teachings progressed, it became apparent that the pilgrims were satisfied and their expectations had been fulfilled. On the final day of the ceremonies, after making a long-life offering to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mr. Kalsang Yeshi, the Norbulingka Institute Director, gave a public account of Norbulingka’s role in the proceedings and read out a financial report that accounted for donations received and funds spent on the event. He also thanked the principal donors, the Busshokai group, Geshe Mapang and Ven. Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. On more than a few occasions His Holiness expressed his satisfaction and deep gratitude for all of Norbulingka’s efforts.