By Tenzin Sangmo
National dailies carried this picture of shirtless Tibetan men posing in Dharamshala snow. Photo by Sonam Topgyal
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 7: The frenzy over the first snowfall of the season in Dharamshala was made special by the widely published photo of a group of six young Tibetan men posing bare-chested, adorned only in traditional Tibetan chuba worn from the waist down.
The photo taken by Sonam Topgyal was picked by national dailies and magazines like Times of India, Economic Times, Outlook and One India which dubbed it the ‘photo of the day.’
These reports described the photo as Tibetan refugees enjoying fresh snow in Dharamshala and the resulting spate of tourists in the region.
These men are Tibetan refugees who were born in Tibet and fled to India in the last two decades in batches. All six of them in the photo are from the Amdo region of Tibet.
Looking at the photo, one couldn’t tell that it is not in Tibet itself. Nostalgia is the overriding emotion driving these men to strip half naked to more keenly feel the icy-cold snow.
Dharamshala, where the Tibetan government in exile is based and the Dalai Lama resides, is also home of around 15000 Tibetans living here as refugees and many have come from Tibet leaving their family and loved ones behind.
These men, now working in Dharamshala in different professions, didn’t want to let go of the opportunity to relive their childhood experience of playing in the snow or wading through freezing cold lakes and rivers that form a memorable part of their life in Tibet.
“We wanted to feel the snow in our body,” said Amdo Kyab, standing third from right.
Tashi, standing third from left, wrote a poem about the photo on Instagram today in Tibetan, translated in English below: We have befriended the spirit of snow,
Wherever there is snow,
That is where our soul is.
We have known snow since we were born,
As we age, we may die with the memory of snow.
Dear snow, you are our warmth,
Dear snow, you are our happiness.
2019 marks the sixtieth year since Tibetans arrived into exile and the dream to return to Tibet is very much alive in the community.