Homage to the Rare and Precious – Video Stream or Download
Kopan Nuns Dance the Mandala of the 21 Praises of Tara
Stream – $2
Purchase – $12
This film shows the entire ritual offering of the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. It was recorded on Dakini Day, October 2004, in the Shrine room of the Kopan Nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal. Prema Dasara and Andrea Abinanti led the nuns and a small group of western Tara Dancers in a week of retreat. Anahata Iradah trained a group of nuns in the music of the dance, and supervised this two-camera shoot. At the culmination of the retreat, the dance was offered to the entire monastic community, presided over by the abbot of Kopan, Lama Lhundrup.
After the pilgrimage of 1998, Lama Lhundrup asked Prema to teach the nuns of the Kopan monastery sacred dance. She gave some preliminary instructions, then hired her close friend and experienced dancer, Andrea Abinanti, to work closely with the nuns. Andrea had been living in the Kathmandu Valley for many years, spoke good Tibetan and Nepali, and was willing to take on the challenging task of teaching the nuns.
Most of the nuns chosen to work with us were in their teens, very shy, and completely lacking in any sense of dance training. It was a formidable task.
Tara Dhatu raised the money to pay Andrea, and to sponsor two different sets of costuming for the nuns. Anahata set about working with the Tibetan language so the nuns could perform the Praises in Tibetan. She also raised the money to buy instruments for the nuns.
Prema developed a retreat manual and took the nuns into a five day retreat before the offering.
A small group of international Tara Dancers joined the retreat and offering.
It was a profound moment for the dancers, being welcomed into the shrine room by the gaylings. This trumpet like instrument is used to announce the arrival of a revered being, a Buddha, a highly respected teacher, a deity.
Prema introduced the dance, and then led the offering of Refuge and Bodhicitta. She and Andrea then performed the 16 Offering Goddesses, a piece from the Charya tradition, a Vajrayana dance of the Newars of Nepal.
Prema was able to fulfill the wishes of her teacher, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, in bringing the Tara Dance to the Tibetan women.
This film gives a taste of the magic of this revolutionary experience.