Zoya from New York about Kalmykia
The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni.
The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni can be seen from everywhere in Elista, regardless of somebody’s location and distance. His Holiness the Dalai Lama IV himself has chosen and blessed the site for its erection. Its grandiose white structure, with its golden cascading roofs, with its Buddhist stupas and towerettes, with its impressive red carved doors – is hovering over the city. When it is dark, this Buddhist temple is brightly lit from below and it appears to be shimmering and floating above the city as if a protective mother is keeping a watchful eye over her sleeping child.
The foundation of the temple was laid on december 27th of 2005. His Holiness The Dalai Lama sanctified its location upon his so long-awaited arrival to Kalmykia, his arrival being so long awaited indeed that the people of Kalmykia almost lost their faith that it would ever happen in their life time, as the memories of the exile were still fresh and kept alive in the tales of eejas and aavas, or the grandparents as their loving kalmyk grandkids would call them. Those tales were full of terror and pain and disbelief from that cold winter night when the entire population was sent away to various locations in Central Asia and Siberia, without prior notice – in unheated cattle cars. That journey lasted two long weeks, and 15,206 Kalmyks died. But those tales were also filled with happy memories of those times when families and friends would come together,in secret lighting Buddhist lamps, and celebrate. Exactly fifty years since the deportation the Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni came to life adding one more happy story into the Kalmyk tales.
When arriving to the temple local people and the guests to the republic of Kalmykia will cross one of the magnificently decorated and opulent tall gates and proceed up the stairs to the soothing sounds of water cascading down the middle from the stairs. Then its a custom to walk around the temple three times making stops to spin the prayer wheels. An attentive observer will notice that the square shape of the temple itself, the positions of the prayer wheels and the four gates, marking four sides of the world, remind them of the mandala which is the representation of the universe, and this universe is guarded by seventeen statues of the great Buddhist teachers of Nalanda, seated around the temple in perpetual meditation. The temple is situated in the center of Elista, the city surrounded by endless open steppes and low hills. Its always open to the wind or rather faint breeze that brings a particular artemisia aroma from the steppes, the smell of the herb so dear to the kalmyk soul. The smell of artemisia also comes from the burning of incenses inside of the temple. Artemisia along with mantras and jewels is filling the inside of imposing thirty feet gilded statue of Buddha whose compassionate smile welcomes the guests into his abode where monks are offering their daily chantings and audiences.
The temple has just marked its tenth year anniversary, bringing festivities into the peoples lives and a lot of blessings and gratitude.