Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The RHSS Prayer Wheel

The prayer wheel which was consecrated in our school today was the brainchild and long term objective of former RHSS principal Sonam Dorji.  Certainly he got the ball rolling with the fundraising but none of this was known to me until recently. A construction site appeared at the school gate and as there are others scattered around the place at first I paid it no attention.

It was at about this stage, that I realised that I should be documenting this process. 
I love to turn the prayer wheels but I really had no idea how they were built.

This was added to the top before it became anything more than a concrete shell.

Then the beautiful paintwork we have long admired began to appear.

I thought that it was now completely painted and the wheel itself needed to be put in place at this point but what would I know.

For weeks before it was installed the smell of sandalwood had pervaded the campus and it was at hand and ready to be installed at this point.

First all the prayers that give it its name have to be arranged in exactly the right order and right way up to be the blessing required, when the wheel is spun. Enter Class XI Science A.

Then in complete sets they have to be passed to the team attaching them onto the spindle of the wheel.

Class XII  boys and several Lamas undertook securing them all down and tying them in place with prayer flags of course!

A great deal of tension is required to get it all perfectly cylindrical.

Working conditions were always ad hoc and got even more creative as the complexity increased.

However there was no shortage of volunteers or manpower for the job.

Once the binding was done then the whole thing was covered in wood and planed by experts.

Teaching staff and non teaching staff were all as keen as the students to be a part of the process.

It seemed to be adding to everyone's GNH even in these early stages.

Extremely intricate patterns were painted on the pillars and pavilion over the weeks that followed the installation of the wheel.

The current principal generously donated the bell and as soon as it was installed it became a point of confusion for me. 

I am still never sure if it is the prayer wheel bell or the end of lesson bell ringing, much to the amusement of students.

Soon a base coat of red covered the outer layer of tin and the essential final touches of artwork and prayers were added.

Last Sunday on our return from Trashigang we spotted the bunting going up and knew that this was a sure sign that it would soon be complete. The school prayer captain affectionately known as "Lama" doing the honours.

I just love the safety precautions: hold those ankles and tie a strip of cloth around the waist of a classmate. Let's hope that the anchor weighs more than the worker!!

A line of flags with makeshift carved 'knife' tops made from cyprus greenery, until the real deal arrives,

a practise spin ......

wait a few days.......

then add garlands of seeds......

and a temporary altar,

and the scene is set for the big consecration this morning. 

The day before exams start for classes IX and XI. Sounds like a very good omen to me.

The first spin by the Lama after all the student prayers.

Students circumambulated the bigger path through the school campus while staff took the inner circuit near the wheel, with purification smoke billowing over us all.

The principal recording the auspicious event.

WOW! What a process and what a beautiful prayer wheel we now have at the entrance to the school.

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