Singing the Tibetan national anthem while performing religious rituals to pay respect to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Tibetans in Taiwan yesterday celebrated the Tibetan New Year for the first time in many years, while also launching an exhibition of Tibetan history and resistance against Chinese rule in Liberty Square in Taipei yesterday.
“Traditionally, we Tibetans would celebrate Losar — or the Tibetan New Year — through dancing, music, feasts, praying in monasteries or visiting relatives and friends. However, since 2008, Tibetans around the world have stopped celebrating the holiday, as the Chinese government violently cracks down on Tibetans protesting against Chinese repression,” Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC) Taiwan vice president Tennamda said. “It is also a tradition that we would not celebrate Losar if someone in the family passes away, and we consider those Tibetans who sacrificed their lives as our own brothers and sisters.”
In addition to those Tibetans who were directly killed by Chinese troops, as many as 125 Tibetans, mostly within Tibet, have self-immolated since 2009 to call for independence and freedom of religion for Tibetans, as well as the return of the Dalai Lama.
However, Tennamda said that after discussions among themselves, Tibetans in Taiwan are worried that if the No Losar campaign continued, Tibetans would eventually forget about the important traditional holiday.
“Therefore, we’re celebrating Losar again this year, but without dancing and music. So it is not a celebration. Instead, it’s something we do to not forget our own culture,” he added.
The Tibetans started the event by singing the Tibetan anthem, followed by performing the highest gesture of salutation and presenting a khata, the traditional Tibetan silk scarf used to show respect, to the portrait of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan flag.
They then handed out khapseys, which are deep-fried butter cookies that the Tibetans traditionally make for Losar, to onlookers.
At the meantime, RTYC Taiwan president Tenzin Chompel also inaugurated an exhibition of images on Tibetan history and their resistance against Chinese rule.
“We are holding the exhibition here, because we would like to present to the Taiwanese our history and our history. We would also like to get in touch with Chinese tourists,” Chompel said. “We will also be giving out booklets on historical facts of Tibet’s independence that the RTYC Taiwan published for free.”
Former RTYC Taiwan president Tashi Tsering said that a young Tibetan living in China’s Yunnan Province who came to Taiwan with one of the Chinese tour groups came up to him a few days ago when they were preparing for the exhibition in Liberty Square, and asked him about the Tibetan uprising on March 10, 1959, because the young Tibetan knew nothing about it.
“I was worried that he may get in trouble, since he came with a Chinese tour group, but he didn’t care and insisted on asking questions,” Tashi said. “This is exactly why we are doing what we are doing.”
The exhibition will be open through March 10.