Hello! I'm Renee Garland. I've been traveling to Asia for the last 13 years in order to escape snowy Maine winters, hoping to live sunny adventures. My company began 11 years ago with $250 worth of chopsticks. I started selling them at craft fairs and festivals all over coastal Maine. Unfortunately, many people didn't know much about chopsticks! (or Asia for that matter.) Nonetheless, I trudged through the festival scene for several years expanding my inventory to clothing, accessories, gifts, and art. The mission has always been the same; to work with individuals, women's coops, and small home-based businesses to help support and encourage small enterprises. I opened my first store in Portland, in 2006 called "Waterlily." It's filled with Waterlily brand handmade gifts produced both from my travels abroad, and by local artists. I still go on buying adventures, 'cause that's what it's all about. . .

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Seeing His Holiness

So, we have just spent a few rainy days in McLeoud Ganj, just north of Dharamsala, India. We have been attending His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama's teachings, when we can tough out the rain, and find a seat amongst all of the others in the English translation section. Some Russians got so angry with us, and started yelling that we were in their seats. We didn't realize that they had put a piece of tarp down for themselves, and we were infringing. Some Buddhists! We were publicly humiliated. So, after that experience, we were really cautious about where we sat. The teachings were fantastic!

I was a bit disappointed in myself for not going more, but the rain, and seating situation were terrible. One day, we headed over for the second half, the after lunch teachings, when we got there we were told that it was over! What! It was the 13th, and I was lead to believe that it was going until the 15th. How disappointing. I thought that I had missed my last chance to see His Holiness. So when I found out that the following day would be a special ceremony for the celebration and prayer for the long life of H.H., I was soaring again.

We woke this time early, and arrived around 8 and passed through the security checkpoint, found a spot on the concrete, and once again set out our pillow, and blankets out for comfort. It was full chanting through all the streets and in and around the temple. We just sat, and took it all in. For hours, we sat. There was no English translation, but I didn't need one, just sitting, and listening to the chanting was enough. The monks started to come out, and offered sweet butter tea to the crowds. Then came the swarms of monks handing out foods of all kinds. There was a group of Tibetan school children in front of us, and they were having so much fun diving for the presents of chocolate bars, breads, and other sweeties. It was fun to watch! The Tibetans started throwing the white scarf offerings forward also. First forming them into tight balls of silk, then throwing them onward. It was a sight to see, white comets swirling, and lurching forward through the air. There were many people dressed in traditional clothing from different regions of Tibet. They formed a line, and paraded up to H.H. with chants and offerings of many kinds.

When it seemed to be almost over, I picked up the blankets, and waited over by the path that I knew he, and his important procession would take from the temple to the gates of his home. I was about 4 people back from the front. I stood for about 30 minutes there vigilantly holding the spot.
Then the procession of religious dignitaries, security, and His Holiness himself came through. There he was right in front of me!! The Dalai Lama!! I would say about 6 feet away. I couldn't suppress the tears that were now streaming down. It was magical, a powerful moment in my life.
After he and his procession walked by, the crowd scattered, and left. I was caught in a sea of Tibetans, Indians, westerners, monks, and happily made my way back to our guesthouse.
A bit later, Jake and I decided to take a hike up the nearby mountains, and explore.

1 comment:

Susan Bradford said...

Hi - I love your website. I am enjoying and envying your seeing His Holiness.

Let me know when you come back to Portland and we'll get together.

Namaste,

Susan Bradford