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Monks share culture during visit

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Photo by Tamie Meck Geshe Phuntsock, left, a monk from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in India, creates a sculpture of butter and oatmeal while Konchock Jampa describes the process, symbolism and two centuries of culture associated with the sculpture and Tib

Six Tibetan monks, scholars from the Gaden Shartse Monastery, spent last week in the North Fork Valley, raising awareness of their culture while experiencing the local culture. Tibetan monks have been visiting the North Fork area since 1977. This group was sponsored by Bob and Candy Penetta and was raising money to clothe, house and scholar the students of the monastery, which was once funded by the people. The monasteries of Tibet lost funding when the country's economy was destroyed following the 1950 invasion by China. Their spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, was exiled in 1959 and remains in exile today.

While here, the monks held a White Tara Empowerment ceremony at the Hotchkiss Yoga Tree, gave a lecture on climate change at the Paonia Library, and held a butter sculpture demonstration Friday evening at the Church of Art in Hotchkiss.

"I am so grateful to Bob for bringing them here," said Mary Hockenbery, owner of the Church of Art. She had planned a street party before learning the monks would be in the area the same day. They performed a blessing of the gallery, gave a talk on the culture and teachings of the monastery, and held a question and answer session.

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