Commemorating 50 Years in Exile.
New York City – Saturday, October 10, 2009. It may have been just another Saturday for many New Yorkers and tourists alike as they made plans to visit mid-town, Manhattan, a very popular location. However, they may have been pleasantly surprised to see a full display of Tibetan costumes and dance performances by an estimated 3,500 Tibetans, who participated in the Tibetan cultural parade! The parade was jointly organized by all eight Tibetan associations in the East Coast of the United States and New York & New Jersey, regional Tibetan Women’s Association and regional Tibetan Youth Congress. The organizers hoped to present Tibet’s rich culture & tradition to the world and to commemorate 50 years in Exile for Tibetans.
This year, Tibetans all over the world are commemorating ‘50 Years in Exile’. 1959 saw the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) occupation of their country, that had ultimately forced into exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetans. In the past 50 years, Tibetans in Tibet have struggled under the CCP as they are denied basic human rights and freedom. Tibetans are suppressed from practicing their language, culture and religion to a point so critical that His Holiness the Dalai Lama repeatedly pleads to the world that "intentionally or unintentionally, some kind of a cultural genocide is taking place in Tibet."
Meanwhile, Tibetans in the Diaspora have also endured their share of hardship. However, they are enjoying many of the freedoms and opportunities that are lacking in Tibet. Tibetans in exile, under the benevolent leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama had made great effort to preserve and promote their rich spiritual & cultural heritage, tradition & identity, which they were proud to present at the parade in the big apple on Saturday.
The day’s program was divided into three sections: A function in the morning at a park next to the United Nations building. It was followed by the actual Parade from the UN building to the Times Square; culminating in a two- hour function at the Times Square. The parade was led by Buddhist monks, nuns and honorable guests. There were Tibetan songs and dance performances, including children and adults’ favorites, yak, Shawa (deer) and Senghe (Snow Lion) dances. Former members of the prestigious Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) sang ‘Rangzen Son-tsa’ and performed Dranyen Shapto, dancing while playing the traditional Tibetan lute (dranyen). Also, actively participating were 17 different ‘kyiduks’ from New York area, displaying their particular region’s unique costumes and performing some most exciting dances. Six different guest speakers spoke of the importance of Tibetan language, cultural heritage and Tibetan Buddhism.
At the crowded Times Square, locals and tourists alike were mesmerized by the parade and by various cultural performances. The event, what may have been the largest Tibetan cultural parade in North America, was definitely a success, to say the least. More people showed up than the organizers had expected. It was so crowded to a point that the designated area were filled to the last inch of space, and many spectators had to stand outside the barricade at the pedestrian sidewalk, while the New York City police struggled to clear the sidewalk.
Tibetan Community of New York & New Jersey (TCNYNJ) submitted this report.