Once every few years, Ritoma is host to an important lama, usually from Labrang. It is a great honor for the village and local monastery, whose jurisdiction falls under Labrang Tashikyil. This year, it was Geshe Jigme Palden Gyatso, teacher to Gonthang Rinpoche’s sixteen year old reincarnation, and considered the most senior and scholarly Labrang monk.
The following album, dedicated to his visit, may seem a little strange in that there is no photo of the lama himself. Dechen took these waiting on the road for his arrival in the company of the whole village decked in their best, horses and all. This was an event in itself. No one dared take pictures of him inside the Monastery, or on his very brief stopover at the Norlha workshop.
Everyone turns out for such a visit, waiting on the side of the road, holding white scarves and incense sticks. A group of men, representing the village clans go five km out of the village and wait there for his arrival, upon which they offer him tea and Khatas before escorting him back to the village. While they wait, people catch up on gossip, children play. Once the lama has arrived, the crowd moves to the monastery and takes part in a prayer. Then people disperse, buy snacks at the local vendor come for the occasion, hang out a little with friends and relatives to exchange news, then everyone goes home