Tatyana Mukharaeva, About the Stupa and the Prayer House in Kharba
Tatyana recalls the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s as a hard time in her village which is situated far from the federal road. Several people from the village approached the Head Lama of Kalmykia Telo Tulku Rinpoche with an idea to build a stupa in the village, to which he replied positively. Soon the Central Temple in Elista sent the lama Geshe Dugda to Kharba to read prayers. The lama advised the villagers that the proposed stupa could be built anywhere in the village. The villagers set out collecting money for the construction work. A lama named Gen Tupten was appointed from the Central Temple in Elista to oversee the construction work and make sure that it was built according to Buddhist canons. The stupa was built in 2005 with the help of the head of the Yustinskiy rayon, Yuriy Ochirov. The Stupa of the Lotus contains a statue of Green Tara and other precious objects. The ceremony of the opening of the stupa was a holiday in which twelve monks from the Central Temple, including Geshe Dugda, read prayers. Today all villagers look after the stupa, and many young people come there to pray. Following the construction of the stupa, Tatyana points out that life in the village improved. A gas pipe was brought into the village, outward migration decreased, and many local farms became wealthier. In the past the village suffered from drought. In order to address this problem, the villagers decided to build a small prayer house near the stupa. The place was consecrated by monks from the Central Temple. The prayer house now houses a thangka consecrated by the Dalai Lama himself that the villagers brought from Riga where they had attended the Dalai Lama’s teachings. The Central Temple also donated big thangkas of Green Tara and Buddha Shakyamuni. Buddhists from the village of Tsagan-Aman also offered their help. On the outskirts of the village there is a place where the local people perform a fire ritual (gal tyalgn) in autumn during Ur Sar. Elders of the village announce about an upcoming ritual, and the villagers pull money among themselves. Such rituals are performed with the help of a lama. Villagers look after the prayer house in turn. Raisa Goryaeva looked after it. After her it was Tatyana’s mother. When she became too old to carry out this duty, she asked another woman, Galina Tserenova, to do this. According to Tatyana’s mother, the prayer house should be looked after by a person who was born in the year of the cow.