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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?"

Tibetans Unveil Grand Throne in Cambridge for Dalai Lama Visit

April 24, 2009

By Jeremy White
Wicked Local Cambridge
April 23, 2009

Cambridge -- It’s not often that an
internationally recognized spiritual leader
visits your town. Last Saturday at the Cambridge
Marriott, the Tibetan Association of Boston
unveiled a throne on which the Dalai Lama will
sit during his highly anticipated teaching
session at Gillette Stadium later this month.

Local Tibetan artisans constructed the throne
over the course of about a month. The wooden
throne was draped with ornate tapestries and its
headpiece was carved with images symbolizing
aspects of the Buddha’s life and various Buddhist virtues.

Lama Migma, a member of the association and the
Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University, said the
throne, which the Dalai Lama traditionally sits
on while teaching the Four Noble Truths, carries a deep spiritual resonance.

"Unlike the chair like we use in Ivy League
universities, the seat of power where we enthrone
kings, the throne here has transformative significance," he said.

Migma added that the throne helps preserve a
bygone culture of Tibet, saying, "when times were
good, we were underdeveloped but our spiritual
development was high. It’s not that Tibetans
don’t want to have material wealth, but through
the teachings of the Dharma they are invested in merit."

Once people had settled in for the event a
procession of monks dressed in the iconic red and
gold robes entered the room, preceded by the
smoky-sweet aroma of incense and followed by a
man holding aloft a photo portrait of the Dalai
Lama, which he placed atop the throne.

As three monks chanted an "auspicious prayer"
audience members, many of them dressed in
traditional Tibetan garb, lined up to pay homage
by laying symbolic offerings of white cloths on the throne.

The event also showcased Tibetan culture with
several dance and musical performances. First was
a good luck dance that an introductory speaker
said starts off any secular event in Tibetan society.

Group and individual musical performances
followed the dance. Although the musicians played
traditional Tibetan music, there were some
Americanized aspects to the performance. For
example, some of the women wore high heels rather
than the usual wooden shoes topped with embroidery.

The day’s offerings closed with a "Yak Dance," in
which a man tried to extract milk from two
resistant "yaks." His slapstick antics drew
laughter from the crowd, especially from the
handful of Tibetan children in attendance.

Ngwang Jorden, a 31-year-old carpenter who helped
paint the throne, attended the event dressed in a
green sweatshirt featuring the slogan "Tibet Will
be Free" and a pin of crossed Tibetan and
American flags that "represents a good bond
between Tibet and America," he said.

"It’s important for [the Dalai Lama] to visit,
because we lots of students around," Jorden said.
"We are targeting students talk about peace and
compassion. I’m hoping the younger generation
will get involved and come to the event."

Tenzin Sonam, the general secretary for the
association, estimated that there are 500 to 600
Tibetans living in the Boston area. He said that
being in the presence of the Dalai Lama is
profoundly important for Tibetans scattered across the globe.

"To regular people he’s a symbolic figure who is
known worldwide," Sonam said. "But for us it
means much, much more than that. Every time we
see him it gives us renewed hope and a sense of promise."

The throne unveiling also served to generate
revenue and publicity for a planned Tibetan
Heritage Center, in which the throne will occupy
a central place. Sonam said the association has
not yet selected a site for the $1.5 million center.
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