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Tibetans plan year-long 'Thank You India' celebrations

March 16, 2009

New Delhi, March 14, IRNA -- Tibetans, young and old, including monks
are to celebrate five decades of exiled life in sprawling settlements by
showcasing their identity, culture, religion, language, songs and folk
dances at year-long thanksgiving functions.

The 14th Dalai Lama will kick-start the year-long 'Thank You India!'
celebrations March 31 in New Delhi being held to express gratitude to
the people and the Indian government for sheltering the refugees over 50
years and supporting them to lead a dignified life even in exile,' IANS
reported quoting LugSam (Bylakuppe) Tibetan settlement administrator
Tashi Wangdu.

In the run-up, young Tibetans dwelling in 35 settlements across the
country will hold a four-day cultural fest from March 26 to treat
neighbors to the flavor of their homeland.

"We will commemorate '50 years in Exile: Tibet Experience' through the
year in major cities and towns. Beginning in New Delhi at the India
International Center (IIC) this month-end, we will hold similar events
in Mumbai mid-June, in Kolkata and Mysore October, in Bangalore
November/December and culminating in Dharamsala March 2010," Wangdu said.

There will be exhibitions, panel discussions, lectures, films and
cultural shows.

"Hundreds of Tibetans settled in refugee camps across Karnataka,
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar
Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir will participate in the
celebrations, with many of them travelling to other cities to present
glimpses of the Tibet Experience to the people across the country,"
Wangdu pointed out.

The exiled Tibetans, including monks and nuns, have been preparing for
months to project a show of unity and solidarity.

"Vicissitudes of life notwithstanding, we have been able to bond
together spanning two generations owing to our determination to keep the
hope for a free and independent Tibet alive and carry on the struggle
for returning to the homeland one day or other," 70-year-old Sonam
Dorjee, who crossed over to India with the Dalai Lama in 1959, recalled.

Apart from survival instinct, what keeps the Tibetans going in the
adapted land is their firm belief that they are the torch-bearers of an
ancient race, and their unique identity, language and tradition need to
be passed on to future generations whatever be the price.

"Though we have been forced out of our country for political reasons, we
wish to preserve our heritage to advance our culture and develop
knowledge to lead a spiritual life eventually as shown by Buddha. To a
large extent, we have been able to pass on our way of life, occupation,
tradition and values to the second and third generations," Dorjee stressed.
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