Tibetan community scales down Losar in protest


The Losar is typically among the biggest Tibetan celebration of the year, with lavish cultural entertainment, food and venders designed to bring the community together with the general public. The 2010 event, however, was organized by the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota on a much more somber note to protest what they feel is a growing oppression and hostility in the occupation of their homeland.Losar, meaning literally, “New Year”, is typically a three-day celebration with about two weeks of additional activities. The 12-month Tibetan lunar calendar places the start of Losar on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth month, or the day before the Tibetan New Year’s Eve.

Dr. Tsewang Ngodup, TAFM president, said the current events in Tibet with protesters facing jail and even death for protesting oppression of their beliefs and independence, has prompted expatriate Tibetan communities around the world to act in solidarity by gathering on this important day but to replace celebration with the purpose of keeping their countrymen in their thoughts and prayers.

The 2010 Minnesota Losar event was more of a community event with entire families setting up blankets and cushions on the armory floor. They brought food and tea, and mingled with other families as the cultural entertainment began.

The monks of the Gyuto Wheel of Dharma in Minneapolis led a procession carrying the portrait of His Holiness The Dalai Lama to the stage, and while leading prayers the community and guests proceeded to place the traditional Tibetan ivory “khata” scarves on the shrine.

Tenzin Ngawang, director of the Tibetan Music and Dance, brought around 30 members of the youth group to perform patriotic freedom songs and a spiritual song.

“We did a lot of preparation and when this was canceled it was quite sad for all of us because the kids had been working so hard they were all sad,” said Ngawang. “But the kids think about it as being an exceptional way to be part of the remembrance by performing something that will help make it even more meaningful.”

Ngawang has led the group for 4 years and was schooled at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in India. He is skilled at performing and teaching Tibetan song, dance and musical instruments. The kids meet on weekends to learn the arts, language and Buddhist faith at the TAFM.

Lobsong Tsering, an auto mechanic from Shakopee, brought his entire family to the event, and that this year they are taking out what they feel are excess celebration.

“We do try to preserve our culture but not to try to celebrate too heavily,” said Tsering.

He is happy about the word from Washington that President Barack Obama would be meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, despite pressure from China not to speak with the Tibetan leader.

The White House Office of the Press Secretary stated Thursday that President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama.

“The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama,” said a White House spokesperson. “The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China.

“The President commended the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government,: the statement added. “The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China.”