Events

A slice of Tibetan culture

AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE The butter sculptures at the exhibition   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

As a gesture of gratitude to India and its people, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) organised a three-day “Cultural Festival of Tibet” at India International Centre. What made the event worth visiting was its comprehensive aspect as it brought to fore Tibetan culture, food, arts, nomadic culture, medicine, handicraft, apparel and literature. It indeed provided an overall picture of Tibetans who have been living in the country since 1959.

“We are observing 2018 as the ‘Thank You India Year’ and this event is to remember the ancient ties of India and Tibet and strengthen the current bonds. It also celebrates the Tibetan struggle for preservation of culture, identity and pursuit of dignity,” observed Dhardon Sharling, Secretary of CTA’s Information Department.

Dhardon Sharling

Dhardon Sharling   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The art section of the festival had some amazing works impressing viewers. The Gyuto Monastery monks were in rapt concentration creating a sand mandala installation, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition that involves creation and destruction of mandalas made of coloured sand. Explaining its significance, monk Jigmes Thupten, said, “It symbolises the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.” The sand is created by crushing marbles and colouring it in five colours — green, red, yellow, white and blue. “These represent the deities, Amoghasiddhi, Barotsana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabhabhava and Aksobhya,” explained Thupten. What is really noteworthy is to watch monks colour the patterns by gently vibrating the pipe containing the sand with another pipe.

Another exhibit of this monastery that was breathtaking was the butter sculpture installation. It is a tradition that began in 1409 as apart of a celebration of Buddha Sakyamuni’s victory over six gurus in a contest of miracles. Made from butter, it is a sacred offering moulded by hand and decorated in the most colourful ways with varied motifs and flowers. The installation consists of a variety of sizes, ranging from a few centimetres to several metres. “Creating these sculptures is a form of meditation for the monks, who display them on the 15th day of the Tibetan New Year. There it is made of butter but in Delhi we have used Dalda as the butter here is soft and melts quickly,” said Thupten.

Displaying his calligraphy skills was artist Jamyang Dorjee. A retired bureaucrat from Sikkim, he now dedicates his time to this art form, most of his works were dedicated to Tibetan gods and goddesses and Dalai Lama. One shows God Manjushri, who is associated with prajna (insight) in Mahayana Buddhism. “Written around the figure are Sanskrit mantras in Tibetan script,” Jamyang showed with a magnifying glass. Indeed the fine work is breathtaking. Other works include that of Guru Padmasambhava, regarded as the founder of the Nyingma tradition, one of the oldest of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Goddess Tara, a female Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. The Dalai Lama’s picture in calligraphy is decorated with prayers for his long life.

A calligraphy work depicting Dalai Lama

A calligraphy work depicting Dalai Lama   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Preserving traditions

The photo exhibition by the Tibet Museum, put on display a large number of pictures to showcase the Indo-Tibetan ancient ties, Tibet’s journey in exile and Dalai Lama’s escape and entry into India. “Through these we want youngsters to connect with origin of Tibet issue and its history,” observed Dhardon.

The festival’s second section was held in open lawns provided glimpse of Tibetan way of life, art and handicrafts. The Norbulingkha Institute located at Dharamsala displayed aprons, wall hangings, thangka paintings, carved wooden boxes, beautifully designed and decorated bags, etc made by its members. While seeing these finished products, the viewers also got to witness members of Dekyiling Tibetan settlement using manual looms used to manufacture carpets, rugs and sturdy fabrics. “Such endeavours help in conserving and preserving our ancient traditions,” remarked Dhardon.

The section on Tibetan medicines, with charts, pharmaceutical products, raw materials used for preparing them and instruments used by doctors too drew people in droves. There was a doctor stationed to help people cope with their health related problems.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 5:43:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/events/a-slice-of-tibetan-culture/article23442370.ece

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