Singing monk rehearsing chants for Dalai Lama's visit

Buddhist singing monk Ngawang Tashi Bapu

The unassuming 41-year-old tribal monk said he was not sure whether the Dalai Lama, who arrives in Arunachal Pradesh Sunday, would have the time to listen to his traditional Buddhist chants due to time constraints.

"The itinerary of the Dalai Lama is very hectic and I really don't know if I would be able to chant the hymns before him," Bapu said at the Gaden Rabgyaling monastery in Bomdilla, a town close to Tawang, where the Dalai Lama would hold a two-day religious discourse from Nov 12.
Bomdilla is one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world with over 3,000 monks.
The Dalai Lama arrives Sunday at Tawang, a picturesque town perched at an altitude of more than 11,000 feet, close to the border with China, on a week-long visit to Arunachal Pradesh, a state of about one million people.

The Buddhist leader will then visit the adjoining town of Bomdilla and Dirang Nov 12, before leaving for state capital Itanagar Nov 14. The visit ends Nov 15.
Bapu's album "Tibetan Master Chants" narrowly missed the Best Traditional World Music category for the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2006.

The album was a unique collection of 12 Buddhist religious hymns rendered in Bapu's sonorous voice, accompanied by a traditional gong and cymbals.

Popularly known as Lama Tashi, the Monpa tribal monk, who hails from a yak grazing family in remote Thembang village in Arunachal, is continuing with his rehearsals despite being uncertain about his performance before the Dalai Lama.

"No matter whether I am able to perform or not, the fact that we are getting an audience with the Dalai Lama and will listen to his sermons will be a blessing for us," Bapu said as he stepped into the monastery to continue with his chants.
Like Bapu, monks in both Bomdilla and Tawang monasteries are equally excited about the spiritual leader's visit.
"It is once in a lifetime experience for many of us to sit in front of the Dalai Lama and listen to his preaching. I am excited and at the same time consider myself privileged and blessed to be part of the religious congregation," said Norbu Lama, a 14-year-old monk at the Tawang monastery, his cheeks flushed pink due to the biting winter.

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