Offering Relics to KCC’s New Buddha Statue with Umze Choepel

July 20, 2023

Pictured above: Umze Choepel holding sacred buddha relic inside a crystal stupa. 

In early July, KCC was honored to host the head chant master from Mirik Monastery in India, Umze Choepel, to lead the offering of sacred relics and special mantras to our newly arrived Buddha statue. When the Skidmore Center was first purchased in 2017, many people envisioned a beautiful Buddha statue residing in the alcove at the back of the stage. Our late, beloved Sanje Elliott found a master sculptor Vijay Mahajan in Kathmandu, Nepal, and the commission began. Five years later, the statue arrived at the Skidmore Center in perfect timing with a visit to North America by Umze Choepel.

Umze Choepel—”Umze” means “chant master” in Tibetan—is often requested to lead prayers and rituals for many high lamas and rinpoches around the world. Lama Eric requested him to visit KCC during his West Coast trip to lead the filling of the statue with traditional mantras and special sacred substances. Shipped from Nepal alongside the statue were many, many rolls of sacred mantras and a carefully prepared “life pole” for the figure. These objects were consecrated and then carefully placed inside the Buddha statue with many other special substances. The remainder of the interior was then filled with precious stones and metals, and many fragrant herbs and grains.

Lama Eric also requested Umze Choepel to join the final session of our July Half-Day Retreat to lead chants for the community. Umze led the sangha in chanting several prayers in Tibetan, including “The Twelve Deeds of the Buddha,” “Short Vajradhara Prayer,” and Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche’s short Green Tara practice, “Protection from All Peril.” Additionally, Umze and Lama Eric had prepared some saffron water infused with a selection of the sacred relics and invited participants to come up one by one to receive some of the water as a blessing and connection with the lineage. If you missed the practice on July 2nd, you can view the recording and join in the chanting below.

Bill Spangle, Steve Parker, Mikiah Cohen-Peltier, and Rich Miller (with additional early input from Pat Kirkhuff, Jef Gunn, and John Jennings) are currently working hard to prepare the alcove and throne at the back of the stage where the Buddha will be placed. At that time, we will hold a ceremony to officially welcome and celebrate this very special statue now at our center! Please stay tuned for the date. Board President Jennifer Chang has created a video capturing all the stages of the Buddha’s journey which you can view here.

Emaho! Sarva Mangalam!

Pictured below: Umze Choepel and Lama Eric Triebelhorn consecrating the Buddha statue.