Utpal Borpujari

March 2, 2009

50 years of the Dalai Lama’s exile: Tibetans to say “Thank You India”

By Utpal Borpujari

Fifty years have gone by since the Dalai Lama had fled Tibet and was given shelter by the government of India, and it’s through thanksgiving that the Tibetan community in India would mark this momentous golden jubilee.


Throughout the country, in states with Tibetan settlements, events are being organised to mark the occasion, with the Dalai Lama himself scheduled to participate in a “Thank You India” programme in the capital.


The programme, to be held on March 31 at the FICCI auditorium in Delhi, will see the Dalai Lama deliver an address that is likely to recall his daring escape from Tibet and the experience of the last 50 years of living in exile in McLeodganj near Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh.


“The exact programme will be finalised soon, but the Dalai Lama will participate in the programme in New Delhi,” Kalsong Dagpo, secretary at the Bureau of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in New Delhi told Deccan Herald.


Various events will be organised by the Tibetan settlements across the country to commemorate the golden anniversary under the “Thank You India” programme, Dagpo said.


Among the biggest events will be the five-day “50 Years in Exile: Tibet Experience” being organised from March 26 at the India International Centre in the capital.


To be attended by the Karmapa, the event will see the convergence of virtually everything about Tibet that is available in India. From Thangkha painters, metal craftsmen and wood carvers to carpet and apron weavers and practitioners of traditional Tibetan medicine, a large number of Tibetan specialities will be on display during the five days at the IIC.


There will also be a contemporary Tibetan art exhibition comprising works of Sonam Lhundup, Kalsang Diki, Tenzin Namgyal and Tsering Gonpo and an exhibition of photographs titled “Tibet’s Journey in Exile”, apart from the creation of a sand “mandala” and butter sculptures by monks from the Gyuto Tantric University.


Films on Tibet, such as Martin Scorcese’s “Kundun”, Robb Bradstock’s “The Tibetans: A Life in Exile”, Tom Piozet’s “Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion”, and Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam’s “A Stranger in My Native Land” will be screened during the five-day event, that will also see panel discussions, monastic chantings and cultural programmes.


Karnataka: The Dalai Lama, in fact, kicked off the commemoration in Bylakuppe, near Kushalnagar in Kodagu, on February 25, participating in a “Thank Karnataka Day”, and it was appropriately so.


Bylakuppe was the first Tibetan settlement created in India and is among the most prominent such settlements in the country.


The settlement came into existence after the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru allotted nearly 3,000 acres of land in Bylakuppe, leading to the construction of the first Tibetan exile settlement in 1961. About 45 per cent of the approximately 1.3 lakh Tibetan population in India live in Karnataka.


(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 02-03-2009)


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