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Tibetan cultural dancers performing at the Kalachakra event.

January 21, 2012

Original plays

For decades, TIPA artists have been performing original plays depicting Tibetan life under Chinese rule. On four evenings, the Gu Chu Sum Society for Tibetan Political Prisoners staged plays reenacting the tortures inflicted upon Tibetan prisoners of conscience, monks, and nuns who refuse to denounce the Dalai Lama at risk of death.

The Alliance of Tibetan Musicians held several concerts to “honor the patriots inside Tibet.” 

Jhola Techung, a TIPA graduate and international star of stage and CD, said, “We  wanted to show our bonds with our brothers and sisters in Tibet with music."

"As refugees were scattered around the world, music helped keep us united. At this Kalachakra so many people here from Tibet have come to our concerts. I’ve written a new song about our freedom struggle called 'Courage'—that is what we Tibetans need when we are up against such powerful, oppressive forces.”

“Tibetan culture makes the Chinese nervous,” said Karma, a 17-year-old student who  left his home in Kham six years ago to join one of the Dalai Lama’s exile schools.

“We all came to India for education, but of course, we also want to go back to Tibet  to see our families. One of my friends from my village in Kham is a good singer. He recorded a CD that was only love songs, nothing political, so he would be able to go home to see his parents. 

"But still, he got arrested when he went to Tibet, and spent three months in jail.”

Also screened at the Kalachakra was “Tibet in Song”, an awarding-winning documentary  by Ngawang Choephel, a TIPA student who won a Fulbright scholarship to Middlebury College, then traveled to Tibet to record Tibetan music. 

For this, he was arrested and spent six years in a Chinese prison. 

“I wanted to be here, for this huge gathering of Tibetan people” said Choephel,  linking arms with Tenzin Tsundue, who also went to Tibet as a refugee from India and was held in prison for three months. 
 
Shertar, a popular Tibetan singer in Lhasa, has a hit video called "The Unity Song,"  in which artists from Amdo, Kham, and Utsang each in their distinctive native hats,  chubas, and boots – sing  “Oh Tibetans unite, the Three Regions of our Snowland,” which plays on every iPod and video screen. 
 
“Even after 60 years of Chinese occupation, the Tibetan identity is there,” says a trader from Lhasa who does business in Nepal but had never been to India before. 

“Of course, lots of Tibetans speak Chinese, we have no choice, and there is pressure  to intermarry with Chinese. Tibetan culture is adapting, but it’s still very strong, because it’d very old. We don’t sing Chinese opera, we have our own style.”
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