A cloud of anxiety hung heavy on the commemoration of the 76th birth anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Darjeeling, West Bengal, with the crackdown by security forces on Tibetans in neighbouing Nepal. The Himalayan country Nepal on Wednesday prevented exiled Tibetans from commemorating the Dalai Lama’s birth anniversary anticipating that the crowds would finally turn the commemorations into anti-Chinese demonstration platforms.
“We have our kin in Nepal. We fail to understand why the Nepalese Government has suddenly adopted such an undemocratic stance. Just to appease China they are shunning away the contribution of the Tibetans who have lived in the country and have contributed towards its growth. Nepal should understand that the Tibetans are non-violent and that we adhere to the middle path of HH the Dalai Lama” stated Nima, a Free Tibet activist of Darjeeling talking to HT.
Hundreds of riot police blocked the Tibetans from entering a school in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu where the Tibetans were scheduled to hold anniversary celebrations. Police kept close tab on areas populated by Tibetans along with high security at the Chinese Embassy and Chinese Visa Office in Kathmandu.
The Chief Government Administrator of Kathmandu issued a notice stating that police would not tolerate anti-Chinese demonstrations thereby banning all Tibetan public celebrations. Reports state that the Nepal police detained three Tibetans who were trying to hold a prayer meeting in the streets.
Even the “Kashag” – Advisory board or Cabinet of the Tibetan Government in Exile has expressed concern at the prevailing conditions in Nepal. A Kashag release on the occasion of HH the Dalai Lama’s 76th birth anniversary stated “Our desperate effort to relocate Tibetans in Nepal to other places in order to downsize the population has miserably failed.”
The release further states that due to recent political situation in Nepal, the Central Tibetan Administration has not been able to provide necessary support or to look after the welfare of the Tibetans living there. Nepal is home to around 20,000 Tibetans living in exile.
“Now that HH the Dalai Lama has relinquished his political powers handing it over to the Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) elected directly, he is a Religious Head. Despite this we fail to understand why China and now Nepal see him as a threat?” questioned Dawa, a Tibetan student.
Unlike Nepal, HH the Dalai Lama’s birth anniversary was observed in different parts of India along with the rest of the world. Darjeeling having a large Tibetan population the important event was marked with prayers, cultural shows and speeches.
Along with Long Life prayer ceremony (Gyalwe Shabten) offered in all the monasteries dotting Darjeeling, cultural functions were organized at the Central Schools for Tibetans in the District and the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre in Darjeeling town. All Tibetan business establishments remained closed today.
Darjeeling has a strong connection with the Dalai Lama. He has visited this important seat of Vajrayana Buddhism (Darjeeling) in 1956, 1975, 1983, 1993 and 2003.
HH the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso was born on the 6th July 1935 to a farming family in a village called Taktser in north-eastern Tibet. Dalai Lama is a Mongolian Title meaning “Ocean of Wisdom.”
He is believed to be manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion known in Tibetan as Chenrezig. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth to serve humanity.
In 1950 the Dalai Lama was called upon to assume political responsibility after China’s invasion of Tibet in 1949. In 1959 with brutal suppression ofthe Tibetan National uprising in Lhasa, the Dalai Lama was forced to escape into exile and since then living in Dharmasala- India.
He won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy on Universal responsibility in 1989. His Holiness has authored more than 56 books in English.
“This year the Tibetan Welfare Office has requested for a two day commemoration of HH birth anniversary. We have guests from Dharmasala including the former Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament Karma Cheopel attending the commemorations in Darjeeling” stated Lakpa, Secretary of the Tibetan Freedom Movement, Darjeeling.