Thupsung Dhargyeling, a monastery for lay people

PhotographerCourtnay Robbins
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Thupten Rinpoche, a teacher in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, has spent the last ten years overseeing the construction of the Thupsung Dhargyeling Monastery in Dirang, building it at the request of the Dalai Lama. He considers this his biggest lifetime accomplishment. Rinpoche meticulously planned every detail of the project, and the festivities and rituals surrounding its opening ceremony. Dirang is a small Himalayan village located in Arunachal Pradesh, India, within the disputed border area near Bhutan and Tibet (China). Since the construction of the monastery began, Dirang has prospered, providing jobs as well as a place of learning and worship, and the town’s population has increased. Unlike typical monasteries, Thupsung Dhargyeling places its focus on educating lay people in Buddhist scripture and practice. This photo series documents the preparation and rituals of the consecration ceremony, exploring the interaction and cultural structure between Buddhist monks and lay practitioners.