In year-long celebrations, exiled Tibetans will say ‘Thank You India!’

March 13th, 2009 - 11:31 am ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Balaji
Bylakuppe (Karnataka), March 13 (IANS) Tibetans, young and old, including monks, nuns and children are revving up to celebrate five decades of exiled life in sprawling settlements as this one by showcasing their identity, culture, religion, language, songs and folk dances at year-long thanksgiving functions.

“His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will kick-start the year-long ‘Thank You India!’ celebrations March 31 in New Delhi being held to express our gratitude to the people and the Indian government for sheltering us over 50 years and supporting us to lead a dignified life even in exile,” LugSam (Bylakuppe) Tibetan settlement administrator Tashi Wangdu told IANS.

In the run-up, young Tibetans dwelling in 35 settlements across the country will hold a four-day cultural fest from March 26 to treat neighbours to the flavour of their homeland.

“We will commemorate ‘50 years in Exile: Tibet Experience’ through the year in major cities and towns. Beginning in New Delhi at the India International Centre (IIC) this month-end, we will hold similar events in Mumbai mid-June, in Kolkata and Mysore October, in Bangalore November/December and culminating in Dharamsala March 2010,” Wangdu said.

There will be exhibitions, panel discussions, lectures, films and cultural shows.

“Hundreds of Tibetans settled in refugee camps across Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir will participate in the celebrations, with many of them travelling to other cities to present glimpses of the Tibet Experience to the people across the country,” Wangdu pointed out.

The exiled Tibetans, including monks and nuns, have been preparing for months to project a show of unity and solidarity.

“Vicissitudes of life notwithstanding, we have been able to bond together spanning two generations owing to our determination to keep the hope for a free and independent Tibet alive and carry on the struggle for returning to the homeland one day or other,” 70-year-old Sonam Dorjee, who crossed over to India with the Dalai Lama in 1959, recalled.

Apart from survival instinct, what keeps the Tibetans going in the adapted land is their firm belief that they are the torch-bearers of an ancient race, and their unique identity, language and tradition need to be passed on to future generations whatever be the price.

“Though we have been forced out of our country for political reasons, we wish to preserve our heritage to advance our culture and develop knowledge to lead a spiritual life eventually as shown by Buddha. To a large extent, we have been able to pass on our way of life, occupation, tradition and values to the second and third generations,” Dorjee stressed.

(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at fakir.b@ians.in)

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