By Tenzin Dharpo
His Holiness addressing the opera troupes from India and Nepal, April 21, 2018. photo/Lhakpa Kyizom
DHARAMSHALA, April 21: The artists of the ongoing Tibetan opera festival of Shoton this morning had a mass audience with the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the main courtyard of the Theckchen Choeling Tsuglakhang here in McLeod Ganj.
The Tibetan leader, speaking to over a hundred Tibetan artists, said that they are the custodian of an indigenous Tibetan performing art form. “I have never seen a Chinese sing the Tibetan opera. It is uniquely native to Tibet and so its is commendable that you have all been a part of the preservation of this performance art,” the Dalai Lama said.
The 82-year-old also thanked the artists for their part in preserving their culture and heritage in times of great hardship in exile, when most of it was destroyed back in Tibet following the invasion.
The Dalai Lama reminisced that the early days in exile were a times of great hardship as well as great periods of integrity from common Tibetans. “We have all succeeded significantly in serving the great Dharma-Kings of Tibet; in the darkest times in our history, the present generation of Tibetans have shown great courage. The courage of the Tibetans inside Tibet and here in exile is indomitable,” he told the artists.
The Tibetan leader also remarked that the intrinsic trait of being a Tibetan is something that cannot escape Tibetans anywhere in the world. He recalled that even communists Tibetans such Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal and Sangyal Yeshi despite being representatives of the Chinese communist party, showed affinity to their origins. He said that Bawa Phuntsok Wangyal, the founder of Tibetan Communist Party decades ago, was a true Tibetan patriot and one who paid the price for the love for his country.
The five-day Shoton (Yogurt) festival which began on Friday will feature opera troupes from places such as Nepal, Mundgod, Bandhara, Mussoorie, Chauntra, Kalimpong, Bylakuppe, Orissa, among others performing classics such as Nangsa Woebum and Drimey Kundhen through to April 25 at TIPA. On the last day of the festival, artists from host TIPA will perform the classic “Gyalsa Bhelsa”.