Day one in Sarnath was spent chanting the Dhammachakka Sutra in the shadow of the Damekh Stupa, where it is thought Buddha delivered his second sermon.
On day one we were very separate groups all divided by language with only the common thread of any group that has just been thrust together.
The morning opened with a gathering in the courtyard of Sarnath International Nyingma Institute for a walk to the Stupa. The monks gather, wrap the words of Buddha in golden cloth and carry them to the site proceeded by the umbrella, another sign of the Buddha.
The site is decorated with the Wheel of Dharma, or the Wheel of Knowledge, flowers, especially the lotus; a symbol of Buddha, water (a typical Tibetan offering) and then the statue of Buddha and the holy texts.
The Chanting covers the entire day, with a break for lunch. There were over 500 monks and lay people at the event for the day, a feat for all involved to carry off not just the crowd at the site, but lunch and tea as well.
The evening ended with a Dharma talk explaining the Buddhist Monk’s summer retreat. It was given in English as best the students could, with a constant pressing by the moderator to ask questions at the break of each speaker. It was difficult for me to understand the whole lecture due to the heavy accent and language difficulty, but it was fascinating to sit in a room and learn a small amount of information. I can not imagine how difficult it was for the monks that have very little English, but that is all part of this experience.