Gangtok, Sikkim, 6 November - His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent his greetings to the first ever Tibet Festival today in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim that has strong cultural and religious ties with Tibet. The 1989 Nobel peace laureate said it is befitting that the festival was being held to coincide with the 50 years of the Tibetan people’s life in exile.
“I too have fond memories of my several visits of Sikkim. In particular, I have been deeply moved when undertaking pilgrimage to sacred sites like Tashiding and Pemayangtse,” read the message from the Tibetan leader who is currently touring Japan. Mr. Dhondup Dorjee, Tibetan Settlement Officer of Gangtok, read out the message at the opening function of the festival today at Kanchenjunga Complex in Gangtok.
His Holiness further writes, “I am therefore pleased to send my greeting on the occasion of a Tibet Festival that is being held in Gangtok from November 6 to 10, 2009 by the Tibetan Community in Sikkim to express their gratitude to the state government and the people of Sikkim. It is befitting that this festival is being held to coincide with the 50 years of the Tibetan people’s life in exile.”
The Tibetan Community of Sikkim in association with three Tibetan NGOs from Dharamsala are hosting the event to express the Tibetan people’s gratitude to the government of India and its people for 50 years of hospitality.
T.T. Bhutia, the Minister of Transport & Public Health Engineering, presided over as the chief guest for the inaugural function, and appreciated the impressive work put up by the Tibetan community of Sikkim, and stressed on the importance of preserving Tibet’s rich cultural heritage. He also spoke on possible joint venture between the Tibetan and Sikkimese religious groups. Since Sikkimese people and Tibetans share a common religion, he urged, “the young Sikkimese lamas have much to learn and seek guidance from Tibetan lamas on the intricacies of Buddhist rituals”.
Mr. Karma Yougyal, Organising Secretary of the Tibet Festival, said, “The festival showcases the rich cultural identity of Tibet that has been conserved for the past 50 years in exile with kind assistance from the Indian government and its people. It will exhibit the spirit of Tibet in its original form.”
Mrs. Kirti Dolkar Lhamo, President of the Tibetan Women’s Association said, “We take this opportunity to convey our sincere gratitude to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama has provided an unwavering and visionary leadership for all Tibetan people everywhere in the world.”
“Sikkim has a special place in the hearts of Tibetan people. The hospitality extended to us is invaluable,” added Mrs. Lhamo.
Lectures and exhibits on Tibet’s environment, Buddhism, Tibetan medicine, astrology, traditional music and dance, costumes, crafts, and cuisine will be showcased at the festival.
Tibetan Women’s Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement for Tibet, Students for a free Tibet – India, U-Tsang Association Gangtok, Dotoe Association Gangtok, Domey Association Gangtok, Tibetan Youth Club Gangtok, Tibetan Women’s Association Gangtok and Regional Tibetan Freedom Movement Gangtok have jointly arranged the festival that is expected to draw several thousand people