On our approach to the Rumtek Monastery we'd passed under a large banner welcoming Ugyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. But how welcome is he in these hallowed halls? Weeks later another elder in the Kagyu sect promised violence if the boy were to arrive at Rumtek. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama stood firmly behind his endorsement.
After viewing the 16th Karmapa's residence, we entered the main hall of the monastery. Monks were busily preparing for the "chaam" dances¡ªdraping mammoth statues of demons with sacred adornments. Tibetan horns, drums and cymbals lay about at the ready. Cushioned prayer seats lined either side of a main row, rising in steps hierarchically to a main throne at the helm.
This throne has gone unoccupied for the past nineteen years¡ªsince the 16th Karmapa's death. It would remain unoccupied through yet another Tibetan New Year. In it was placed a large framed portrait of fourteen year old Ugyen Trinley Dorje.