Greetings from Lyssa
Lyssa visiting with Khen Rinpoche, founder of Siddhartha School
Julley! (hello, please, thank you & goodbye in Ladakh--it's all purpose!)
We started the day riding the Siddhartha school bus into Stok with about 60 students and teachers standing in the aisles and sitting on top of each other. Khen Rinpoche a Buddhist abbot started this school 10 years ago to serve the children of Ladakh. We came earlier with a group of teachers to observe, meet the students pre k-10th grade and in some cases teach a short lesson. Apparently the 3rd grade missed out on the day so they insisted we return. My friend Laura and I met 25 students in the 3rd grade class and they drew pictures of life in Ladakh for us to exchange with students in New York. It was a blast- the children so full of joy.
Today marked the end of a sand mandala creation at the local temple. It’s an all day event. Buddhist celebrations are very welcoming as every person is given a cup of butter tea and rice during the ritual. We found ourselves sitting with the elderly devotees who welcomed us and gave us shelter from the rain. Ritual is so much a part of Tibetan Buddhist tradition that reminds me of some of the rituals in the Catholic Church. Many beautiful objects surround the ceremony.
Leh is the capitol of Ladakh which hosts many tourists for the summer and basically folds up for the winter. The climate is harsh-its taken me 3 days to adjust to 11,000 feet elevation and the sun has been out in the day but now it’s freezing-- I have every layer of clothing on that I packed. We drove out a few hours to a monastery and the landscape is so dry and extreme. The mountains are brown with moonscape like vistas around every turn. Though we are at the top of the world it makes more sense to think of it as the bottom of the sea.
Looking forward to another week here! Hope all is well