304 - Tibetan feast has spirit

By Lauren Gosnell

There is a certain exot feel to Tibetan culture.

Walking into the Shrine Room of the Riwoche Tibetan Buddhist Temple, it is easy to be swept away by the majestic golden Buddha statues residing over the room and the warm hues of gold, crimson and blue that give the space a regal beauty quite distinct from anything in Western society.

As in almost every culture, food has a spiritual as well as a physical importance to Tibetan Buddhists. On the night of the Dakini Tsog, patrons of Riwoche prepare for a feast offering.

Tsog means "gathering" and Dakini is the deity to whom they are offering the feast. A buffet of simple foods like fruits and cheese adorn a table. Both Buddhists and non-Buddhists of all ages and races have come to take part.

The Dakini Tsog is a tantric ceremony, which means to involve the senses - in this case, taste and sound. Buddhism aims to overcome the physical world.

Dakini

Dakini is the female representation of enlightenment. During the ceremony, practitioners chant a mantra – an aural representation of the dakini. While the practitioners sample the foods from the feast table, they attempt to visualize themselves as enlightened beings.

Tsog offerings are held on the 10th and 25th day of each lunar month. The next Dakini Tsog will be on August 26th, 2008.

Toronto’s Riwoche Temple is named after the original Riwoche Temple in Tibet. During the 1959 Communist invasion, many of the temple’s sacred texts disappeared.

In an attempt to restore and preserve their lineage, the Riwoche has established the Kagyu Nyingma Library project.

Riwoche Tibetan Buddhist Temple
28 Heintzman St.
Toronto Ontario
416-766-7964