Holy to the Core

12 November 2009 - 5:11am Comments Off

Ever wondered just how much work goes into preparing a statue for an altar?

Most of us would think that after the moulding and smelting and sculpting and carving, the work is all but done and the statue is ready for someone’s altar.

However, the crew at Kechara Saraswati Arts know differently.

In fact, to turn a statue into something truly worth making offerings to, a lot more work needs to be done. Most of this work essentially involves filling the statue with precious holy items such as mantras, high lama relics, incense, images of other Buddhas in the form of photos or tsa tsas (if the size of the statue allows for this)…the list goes on and on!

The amount of time taken to fill a statue evidently depends on its size. For instance, an 8″ statue takes around 20 minutes to fill it completely. Doesn’t seem like a lot of time, does it? But then consider this – H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s previous life statue is seven feet tall! Only when you know that, can you truly appreciate the enormity of the task, and the amount of work put in by the volunteers who filled Rinpoche’s previous life statue today.

The work really began last night, when Rinpoche chose what he wanted to be placed in the statue.  Precious items included wealth vases, chakras, mantras and copies of the Lam Rim. After consecrating and blessing the items, Rinpoche gave his Ladrang staff instructions on where each item should be placed inside the statue.

The following morning, volunteers arrived at 11am, excited to begin filling the statue. Led by James Long, they worked at full speed throughout the day, not finishing until 11pm that evening, when the statue was lifted by some 20 people onto its base.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who came to help today! May the care, compassion and concern that they showed, and the amazing task that they accomplished be the cause for bigger, meritorious statues to be created!

Tamara Kalocsai and James Long measuring cloth to make book covers, which are marked so we know which way is up!

Mantras being prepared to be inserted into the statue

Other precious items to be inserted into the statue, including the newspaper advertisment congratulating Datuk May Phng on her investiture...all of which James purifies with incense

James inspecting the pearls which Mitra later inserts into the head of the statue

Tamara preparing incense for Mitra to scatter inside the statue, as an offering of fragrance

As the volunteers scatter flowers into the statue's base, contractors work alongside them, pasting wallpaper and cleaning the 208 Lama Tsongkhapa cubicles

Alongisde fragrant incense and holy mantras, camphor and moisture-absorbing substances are added to discourage insects and rotting

Mitra covering the base with a cloth, and spreading glue so that the metal cover to be placed on top later will not move out of place

As volunteers continue to fill the statue proper, James cuts the base's metal cover to size

Volunteers take a break to have dinner, and then it's right back to work!

As Pat Ng and James inspect some of their work, the metal cover for the statue's base is nailed into place

Volunteers repairing the statue's base

It's cleaning time! The volunteers get the altar ready so the statue can be lifted on to it!

Ready, steady, go! The statue is brought upright...

The statue is lifted...

The statue is on its base!

Volunteers adjusting the statue

Datuk May Phng and Head of Tsem Ladrang JP Thong inspect the statue

Datuk May offers suggestions on how to improve the statue's placement whilst James continues to repair parts of the statue's base

James is clearly thrilled to be cleaning the face of such a holy statue!

Tada! Done and holy to the core!

Tired but happy volunteers

JP has a captive audience as he explains the significance and history of the statue

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