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(kalachakra2011.com)

Get ready, D.C.: The Dalai Lama is playing the Verizon Center this July, and bringing as many as 20,000 people with him.

For the first time ever, the District will host the Kalachakra, the most well-attended ritual in the Buddhist tradition. In brief, it involves the creation and destruction of a sand mandala, as well as the initiation of new Buddhists, in something called the Empowerment.

The Kalachakra is held fairly irregularly; the last one was in 2006. Most of them have taken place in India, but New York, Los Angeles, Madison, Toronto, and Bloomington, Indiana have all hosted the ritual over the last five decades. (Here’s hoping the U.S. isn’t trying to sort out anything too delicate with China at the same time.)

It’s not for those who have rid themselves of all possessions, though. The 8-day pass costs $400, even with help from sponsors and donors.

Meanwhile, right in the middle of the 11-day-long event at the Verizon Center, the Convention Center will host the Summer Fancy Food Show, expected to draw another 25,000 people. Makes you wish that hotel next door had gotten started a few years ago!