On Saturday morning, the Tibetan Monks of the Deprung Loseling Monastery in India stood on the banks of the North Fork of the Gunnison River and prayed for protection of its waters. While they chanted and prayed, toddlers played in the mud, ravens called from nearby, and adults waded cautiously in the slow-moving waters.
The ceremony to bless the local waters and pray for their protection was held in partnership between the monks and the Western Slope Conservation Center, which manages the river park. Throughout the southwest we depend entirely on our rivers," said WSCC executive director Alex Johnson in welcoming the estimated 75 people who came to experience the cultural event.
The Tibetan Monks visited Paonia and the North Fork area as part of the Mystical Arts Tour of Drepung Loseling Monastery in India. During their short stay they performed numerous pujas and prayers and blessed homes, businesses and events while sharing their Tibetan culture.
During the ceremony Paonia resident Ellza Coyle presented a bouquet of roses to the monks, who tossed them to the river as an offering. The roses floated slowly past a rock in the center of the river where someone had built a cairn and drifted out of sight.
"It was completely spontaneous," said Coyle, who intended them as a symbol of love, friendship, and all that roses mean to people. "I was going to offer them to the river at the end of the ceremony."