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October 2020 - Update from Nepal

Tengboche Monastery – Rinpoche

It is with great personal sadness I must report that the Rinpoche (High Lama) passed away invt he early hours of Saturday 10 October, he was in his mid eighties. He was in Namche, he hadcome down from Tengboche the week previously because the weather was becoming very cold. On Monday 12 October the Rinpoche’s body was draped in the yellow cloth used by Lamas and carried by Lamas, other Sherpa devotees and relatives along the trail back up to Tengboche,
where as per Sherpa tradition, his body will lie for six more weeks.

I have seen further reports that the final last rites will be performed on the 49th day after his death. Many hundreds of Sherpas from Khumbu and elsewhere are expected to be at Tengboche for the cremation which is Sherpa tradition. The Lamas of Tengboche will decide whether the body should be cremated, or buried with a small stupa to be built over it.

I have been involved with Tengboche and the Rinpoche for many years since 1991 when as part of an expedition from the UK we helped with the reconstruction of Tengboche after it was burnt down in 1989, this was blamed on an electrical fault from the new micro-hydro which had been installed.

It was on this expedition that I met with the Sherpa people. Pasang, the leader of the group of Sherpa who were organising all the assistance we were involved in, and I became good friends and later in 1992 Nepal Trekking was formed and I have been involved with Nepal and Tengboche ever since then, visiting Nepal and Tengboche twice a year during the March/April and the October/November seasons, meeting with the Rinpoche almost every time, sometimes even, on the occasions I was alone, not with a group, I was invited to have lunch or dinner with the Rinpoche in his private residence, always a special experience.

Now this year, 2020, I have not travelled to Nepal this season because of the Covid-19 virus situation. I was there in Mar./Apr, but as explained in earlier updates this was all cut short by the rising virus problem at that time. Now, to date there are several thousands of new positive cases being recorded each day, and approaching 800 deaths.

Since Mar/Apr 2018 I have not been able to get up to Khumbu and Tengboche, because of various difficulties when I was in Nepal, mostly due to rearranged flights to Lukla, that had to be made from another airport several hours drive away from Kathmandu, and it proved very inconvenient.

So I am very sad to hear about the Rinpoche but also very proud to have known him for many years.

In Sherpa Buddhism Rinpoche’s are a reincarnation. So now we must hope that his reincarnation will be found soon.

Denis Gallagher
Nepal Trekking
October 2020