DHARAMSHALA, July 25: Chinese authorities in Gepasumdo region of eastern Tibet cancelled a major Buddhist ceremony last week and ordered thousands of disciples to return, days after several Tibetans were critically injured in police firing on an unarmed crowd of Tibetans gathered to offer prayers on the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tawu on July 6.
According to the Washington DC based International Campaign for Tibet, more than a thousand Tibetans, including some Chinese, had travelled to the region to attend the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) initiation bestowed by a respected Tibetan lama, Lobsang Choekyi Nyima from Drakkar monastery.
“The ceremony began on July 17, and on the first day, a large number of troops were deployed in the area. Senior local officials then met with the organisers and gave instructions that the teaching must be stopped,” ICT said in a release on Wednesday.
“The Tibetan lama who had been requested by local Tibetans to preside over the ceremony was allowed to give teachings for a second and third day, but then Tibetans had to return to their home areas.”
Following the cancellation, preparation of the Kalachakra sand mandala was also abandoned.
Intense preparations for the teachings had lasted for months with local Tibetans raising around 300,000 yuan ($48,000) for the ceremony, the same source said.
The initiation, first taught by Buddha Shakyamuni, is considered by Buddhists as one of the most important teachings, generally lasting for several days.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has conferred the teachings on 32 different occasions, with the first being in May 1954 at Norbulingka, Lhasa, Tibet and the latest at Bodhgaya, India in January 2012.
The Tibetan lama presiding over the cancelled teachings, Lobsang Choekyi Nyima, who is in his early nineties, had spent many years in prison during the Cultural Revolution and was considered close to the 10th Panchen Lama.
Tibetans in Gepasumdo had last year also sought formal permission from local Chinese authorities to hold the teachings but were refused.
In March last year, monks of the Shingtri Monastery and hundreds of local Tibetans
of Gepasumdo had carried out separate peaceful protests carrying the banned Tibetan national flags and calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, freedom, and equal respect for the Tibetan language. In the violent crackdown that followed, a 12-year-old Tibetan boy was killed and several others were severely injured.
Nine months later in November 2012, another Tibetan protestor, Gyalrig Thar, 35, passed away
in a hospital in Siling after failing to recover from severe injuries to his head caused by the use of explosives and brutal police beatings.