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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Monk entourage arrives ahead of Dalai Lama

September 15, 2010

Amy Dempsey, Staff Reporter
Toronto Star (Canada)
September 13, 2010

Always a few steps ahead of the Dalai Lama, two
"advance monks" from northern India have finally
arrived in Toronto to help prepare Canada’s first
Tibetan cultural centre for the leader’s arrival.

"Wherever the Dalai Lama goes, they do the
preparation," said Salden Kunga, a volunteer
coordinator for the Dalai Lama visit, as he
waited for the monks at Pearson airport on
Sunday. “They are like the entourage.”

Namgyal Nangsetsang, a Tibetan Cultural Centre
spokeswoman, said the busy monks are about a week behind schedule.

"When they applied for their visas, they got it
half an hour later," Nangsetsang said Sunday,
clarifying an earlier statement that said the
monks had trouble getting their visas. “There was
no problem from Canadian Immigration.”

Before Toronto, the monks were carrying out
duties in San Francisco. They stayed longer in
the U.S. than originally planned, but made it to Toronto with no delay Sunday.

A third monk from India will arrive in a few
weeks to assist with preparations at the cultural
centre, which is still under construction at a
$3.2-million warehouse near Lake Shore Blvd. and Kipling Ave.

Both visiting monks, Ven. Lobsang Tgndar and Ven.
Tenzin Kunchok, were last in Toronto before the Dalai Lama’s 2004 visit.

Most of their time here will be spent preparing
about 30 statues that the Dalai Lama will
consecrate when he arrives next month.

The bronze- and gold-gilded statues first need to
be stuffed with relics -- blessings printed on
rolled pieces of parchment -- and pills
containing sacred minerals. Some of the statues are four metres tall.

"Very, very tedious work" Tgndar said. "It is our duty."

The monks are from the Namgyal Monastery in
Dharamsala, northern India, where the Dalai Lama
and the rest of the exiled Tibetan government have been based since 1959.

The Dalai Lama has been an honorary Canadian
citizen since 2006 and is a frequent visitor to
Canada. He is scheduled to speak at the Rogers Centre on Oct. 22.
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