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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."

The Dalai is god in Tawang, his writ is law

November 5, 2009

Times of India
October 31, 2009
  
The day starts early at the monastery in Tawang,
a rambling structure atop a mountain with
clusters of smaller buildings and living quarters

arranged around it. The 200-odd child monks,
their cherubic faces flushed pink with the cold,
rise at the crack of dawn. The youngest is seven
years old. They race up to the gompa as the first
gong reverberates in the prayer hall. It is 4.30
am. The children are wrapped in warm
red-and-yellow robes, their feet pushed into blue rubber slip-ons .

The original monastery, built in 1681 by Merak
Lama, a Tibetan Buddhist disciple, has been
replaced by a new building. The prayer hall is
dominated by a massive gold Buddha, the walls are
covered with elaborate murals of gods and
enormous engraved pillars hold up the ceiling.
The little monks sit in quiet rows on wooden
planks lined with cushions. As they begin their
chanting, the medieval space suddenly comes alive.

There is palpable excitement in the whole of
Arunachal Pradesh, especially in Tawang, as the
Dalai Lama's weeklong visit, which begins on
November 8, draws near. He will spend five days
at the monastery, will take part in special
prayers and religious rituals and inaugurate a
super-specialty hospital to which he has donated Rs 20 lakh.

Despite the hectic preparations to welcome him,
the monks maintain their strict daily routines.
After the prayers, which last for about an hour,
the children queue up to collect the thick wheat
roti and vegetables that make for the first meal
of the day. The older monks and functionaries fan
out to supervise various works in progress,
including the construction of a new museum that
will eventually hold rare treasures and artifacts of Tibetan Buddhism.

"We have been preparing for his visit for a
year," says the abbot, Tulku Rinpoche. An array
of gifts that include a silver and gold dharma
chakra (held by Lord Brahma), a conch (held by
Lord Indra) and a butter lamp with intricate
inlay work encrusted with corals and turquoise,
designed by skilled craftsmen from Karnataka,
will be presented to the Dalai Lama. An idol of
Ami Tayus, worshipped for long life, and a
red-andyellow robe tailored at Dharamsala will also be given to him.

As the child monks brush up on their Buddhist
philosophy, a subject introduced recently at the
monastery's Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies,
so that they are prepared in case the Dalai Lama
asks a question or two, the 500 elders prepare
for special pujas for the man they consider god.
They will not only pray that he has a long life,
but also that "peace, compassion and kindness be instilled in Chinese hearts" .

Rushing to the bazaar to buy bamboo poles and
bolts of silk which will be used as flags to
decorate the monastery for the "great event'' ,
Phurba, a 35-year-old monk, says he has been
praying hard for heavy snow along the border.
"This is to prevent the Chinese from entering India.''
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