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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetans' sacred steps and spiritual sounds

August 7, 2009

The Southern Reporter
August 5, 2009

A touch of Tibet is brought to Melrose tonight
when the monks of Tashi Lhunpo perform at the Wynd Theatre.

Eight Tibetan monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
in India present a programme of sacred dances and
music in magnificent costumes and masks.

Founded by the first Dalai Lama in the 15th
century, and the seat of the Panchen Lama, Tashi
Lhunpo is one of the most important monasteries
in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Re-established in southern India, the monastery
is once again becoming one of the major centres
of learning, best known for its artistic
tradition of masked dances and sacred music.

Their performances -- offering a rare opportunity
to witness an endangered culture -- typically
begin with one monk clashing a pair of cymbals,
played horizontally in the Tibetan style rather
than vertically as in the west, and
simultaneously striking a temple drum with a curved stick.

Five tantric monks with long, dark fringes and
ceremonial headdresses then start to chant. This
is called kunrik (all-knowing), a ritual of
chanting and hand gestures in which the monks
form the symbols of 37 deities being visualised
in their meditation. With fingers being raised,
hands opened and cupped, it is said to look like
sign language in slow motion and that by simply
witnessing these gestures it means you will not be reborn in the lower realms.

They also perform a masked Cham dance -- Bakshi
(The Lords of Death) -- dating back to the 17th
century and the fifth Panchen Lama.

Another dance, Dur Dak (Lords of the Cemetery),
features two skeletons and is said to be an
illustration of impermanence -- a reminder that
however rich or powerful you may be, you are
nothing but bones and can take nothing with you when you die.

The Tashi Lhunpo monks have toured extensively,
including a four-day residence in Nottingham
while the Dalai Lama was talking and teaching at
Nottingham Arena. Always aiming to tour small,
intimate venues where people can make contact
with the music and its spiritual content, their
appearance at The Wynd should be no different.

A workshop for adults and children will take
place this afternoon from 3pm in the Wynd,
introducing the musical instruments and costumes
used in the evening performance.

All proceeds of the tours after expenses are sent
directly to the monastery to support the living
expenses of the monks and specific building and development projects.

Tickets for the monks of Tashi Lhunpo are priced
at £12 or £10 concession, with the performance
beginning at 8pm. Phone 01896 820028 for further details.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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