About Butterlamps

Sponsoring offerings at a Buddhist monastery is a traditional means of accumulating merit, and purifying illness and obstacles. A prayer request (for example, for a relative who is ill, for someone who has passed away, for a business venture, for safe travel, or simply for a friend's good health and long life) typically accompanies the offering.

Sponsor Butterlamps using the Online Donation Form. You are welcome to download the  Tong Chö Price List.

Sponsors who make financial contributions become active participants in maintaining traditions that date back to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, and in sustaining the monastery which preserves those traditions for the benefit of present and future generations.

Prayer requests are always welcome, with or without any of the following offerings.

To make a prayer request, email us at butterlamps@kagyu.com.

About Tong Chö Offerings

Aspiring to follow the example of Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche who offered 100 butter lamps each day of his life, the marme kang house for offering butter lamps and water bowls to the Three Jewels was constructed in 1992. It is dedicated to the memory of Kalu Rinpoche, and every week 1,000 butter lamps are offered there, for a total of 52,000 butter lamps each year.

A traditional Tong Chö of 1,000 butter lamps, 1,000 bowls of saffron water and 300 bowls filled with rice, incense and flowers is offered weekly, accompanied by chanting of the Chenrezi practice. After the offerings are arranged, the prayer requests are announced in the shrine room, followed by the recitation of Monlam Choga, a practice of offering and aspiration prayers compiled by and recited regularly by Kalu Rinpoche. The event itself is a joyous occasion for the accumulation of merit. Offerings are usually made every Saturday morning but calling in advance is advisable since the schedule is occasionally altered based on varying auspicious days of the Tibetan lunar calendar.

On the day of the 17th Karmapa’s enthronement in September 1992, sangha members at Kagyu Thubten Chöling made the traditional Tong Chö offering, while reciting prayers for the new Karmapa’s long life and the flourishing of his activity.

When the sangha gathered the following month to chant the practice of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (Tib. Shi tro), the marme kang was again filled with the Tong Chö offerings each day for the duration of the three-day practice. The merit of these offerings was dedicated to the benefit of the deceased and removal of obstacles for all living beings.

In the Buddhist tradition, butter lamps symbolize the clarity of wisdom and this offering of light creates harmony and brings joy to the mind. In general, making these offerings is a wonderful way to accumulate merit, while promoting success, prosperity, longevity, and world peace. In particular, Tong Chö offerings help avert obstacles, pacify the upheaval of the five elements, heal disease, and bring peace and liberation to the sick and dying. When offered on behalf of the deceased, prayers are recited for their liberation in the Bardo and rebirth in Dewachen.

Butter lamps are filled with pure butter and burn for several hours. Offering bowls may be filled with either golden saffron water or rice arranged with flowers and incense. Butter lamps may be sponsored in any quantity, as described below.

If you wish to sponsor a complete or partial Tong Chö, please use the Online Donation Form. You are welcome to download the Tong Chö Price List.

For information on volunteering to help with preparing Tong Chö offerings, please call (845) 297-2500.