February 28, 2020
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The Song Of Lhasa

The Song Of Lhasa
Nearly all the 120,000 Tibetan refugees in India and many from abroad seem to be packed into the Dalai Lama's Temple for its 160th anniversary celebrations in Mcleodgunj. The crimson and ochre-robed monks and nuns elbow past thronging tourists with un-Buddhist ferocity. There are long speeches in Tibetan heard in a silence that would be the envy of our politicians, followed by song and dance numbers, very like our Republic Day parade. Watching the wiggling three-year-old bottoms swing to a Tibetan folk song, I feel I am witnessing a cultural miracle: how do these toddlers, born this side of the Himalayas to parents who never set eyes on their lost land, share the same dream as their grandparents who fled from Tibet in 1959? Does a culture have to be persecuted to preserve itself unchanged? Here in Little Lhasa in India is a library preserving copies of manuscripts destroyed by the Chinese and schools to preserve its art forms—thongka paintings, traditional woodcarving, metalcraft and music. There is even a Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts that puts up an annual folk opera.
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