By Tenzin Dharpo
Minister for Dept of Religion and Culture Karma Gelek Yuthok (R) and Minister for Health Choekyong Wangchuk, Kalachakra ground/Phayul Photo:Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA/GAYA, JAN. 4: The organizers of the ongoing 34th Kalachakra in Bodh Gaya, India today at a press briefing, expressed disappointment over the heavy handed Chinese government sway barring Tibetans inside Tibet from attending the foremost Tibetan Buddhist teachings presided over by the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The Chair-person of this year’s Kalachakra organizing committee and Minister for Dept. of Religion and Culture, Karma Gelek Yuthok, along with vice chair-person and Minister for Dept. of Health Choekyong Wangchuk, told journalists that the organizers have been disappointed with the developments that have led to common Tibetans inside Tibet missing out on the teachings considered by many as the principal Buddhist teaching.
Sporadic reports over the course of last few weeks suggested that Chinese government has issued directives to bar Tibetans attending the Buddhist event by both confiscating passports and travel documents or by calling back Tibetans already out of Tibet on valid visas. Earlier in November, a month prior to the current Kalachakra, Chinese authorities in Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu collected passports under the pretext of ‘affixing new seal’.
In a similar directive, the Chinese government has issued a temporary travel restriction on its citizens visiting Nepal and asked its travel agencies and airlines to cancel all travel plans and bookings made until January 10 with immediate effect.
Many pilgrims in Tibet will miss the Kalachakra for the second time in the last two years. In 2016 the exile government organized Kalachakra was cancelled due to the health of the Dalai Lama at that time. The obstacles are compounded this year with China breathing down the necks of the pilgrims who intended to attend the 13 day religious congregation in Bodh Gaya.
However, the 81 year old Dalai Lama’s assurance for blessings have come as a respite for Tibetans who have since been recalled to Tibet by the Chinese government, a Tibetan man whose relative recently returned after the directive said.
“Those of you who will not be able to stay during the Kalachakra teachings, do not be dejected as you will all be able to receive the wang (empowerment) as well as blessings. I will pray for all the Tibetans in Tibet from Bodhgaya. The physical distance between a teacher and his disciple can be overcome by the innate tie within,” the Tibetan leader said last week in New Delhi.
The organizers requested the public and devotees to be wary of rumors doing the rounds that the Kalachakra might not take place as scheduled. The organizers also appealed to the devotees and the general public to refrain from non - vegetarian diets for the duration of the Kalachakra as an effort for collective merit for the long life of the Tibetan leader.