From “An Interview with the Gyalwang Karmapa, November 29th, 2010″ posted on the Kagyu Monlam website (www.kagyumonlam.org):
Q. What are the designs and themes of the butter sculptures this year?
This year they are in connection with the Karmapa 900 commemoration, thus in the torma [butter sculptures] we have representations of eight previous Karmapa incarnations, from the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, to the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje.
As last year, in the centre there are deeds of the Buddha, drawn from the Avadana [accounts of past life deeds]. Similarly, there are eight worldly protectors – the four great deities and the Four Great Kings –who guard the virtuous activities of Buddhist practitioners, and, more broadly, not just of Buddhist practitioners, but of other virtuous beings too. Since we are now living in India, in a sense this is a way of showing our respect to the Hindu gods of India, and since they are gods who protect all virtuous, positive beings, and since they were praised by Buddha as well, this is the reason for us to make torma of them in particular this year.
Here are some of our snapshots of this year’s Kagyu Monlam tormas: