‘From The Roof Of The World’
by Jasmine Shah Varma
(Mid-Day. March 10, 2000)
'Dancing monks, delicious momos, butter sculpture and films mark
the five-day festival of Tibet starting today'
Tibet, lovingly called the roof of the world beacuse of its
location high up in the snow mountains is not only a beautiful
country in terms of its flora and fauna, but also becaise of its
thosand-year-old culture and tradition. But there's more to Tibet
than the Dalai Lama, monks in maroon robes, Buddhism and visits by
Bringing the culture, tradition and issues of this land is the
'Festival of Tibet', organised by two organisations, namely
Friends of Tibet (INDIA) and the Tibetan Youth Congress.
From March 12 to 17,
Mumbai will have the opportunity to witness Tibetan cuisine.
The YB Chavan Centre will be the hub of all the activity.
Tintin in Tibet,
and many short films too,
will be screened over the five-day festival, followed by
discussions. Jetsun Pema, sister of the Dalai Lama will present
An exhibition of photographs called 'Five Candles' will be held on
at the Coomaraswamy Hall, Prince of Wales Museum. Photographers
like Diane Barker, Jacqueline Meier, Suresh Natarajan, Vijay
Kranti and Lobsang Wangyal will exhibit their work on Tibet and
its people. Meier from Switzerland who has been involved with the
Tibetan issue for a while now, says, 'I have taken pictures of
Lhasa. In slide show and lecture, I will show the changes that the
city has gone through between '95 and '98. Today, the city look
more Chinese than Tibetan.'
The traditional mask dance by Tibetan monks called 'Cham' will be
performed for the first time in Mumbai. Monk dance to the trumpet
and recitation of
This dance is taught to the monks of
the Zonga Choedhe monastery in order to ward off evil forces.
A package of 21 traditional songs and dances by 30 students of
the Tibetan Children's Village, Bylakuppe, Karnataka is an added
attraction. This presentation showcases the different dances
To get a taste of Tibetan cuisine, there will be stalls at the
YB Chavan Centre that will serve momos and shabakleb among other
delecacies. There will be a hadicraft exhibition in which thangka
paintings and woodcarvings will be exhibited and monks will perform
for the Mumbai audience on March 16.
An added attraction is Dr Kangyur, the Dalai Lama's personal
physician's visit. He will give a peek into the traditional Tibetan
The biggest attraction however is the 'butter sculpture' which is
four hundred year old tradition. The huge butter sculpture made
meticulously by several monks over days of Lord Buddha over si x
non-Buddhist teachers who challenged him in performing miracles.
The festival has been brought to Mumbaiwallahs with the purpose of
spreading awareness about the Tibetan issue. Tibetans in exile and
many voluntary supporters are seeking help of the people of India
and the government to support human rights issues and the cause of
freeing Tibet from Chinese rule.
Says Choekyong Wangchuk, general secretary of the Tibetan Youth
Congress, 'the objective is to protect and promote Tibetan culture,
traditon and identity through this festival and strive for the
independence of Tibet.'