By RAY ROUTHIER
A group of Mainers is reaching out to help Tibetan Buddhists preserve their culture and traditions.
The Mainers are coming together because of Geshe Lobzang Tsetan, a Buddhist monk who spends about a month in Maine each year teaching classes in Buddhism. Tsetan is the founder of the Siddhartha School in Ladakh, India. The school strives to provide a modern education for children there, while preserving Tibetan Buddhist cultural traditions. Many Tibetans live in exile in India, because of Chinese control of their homeland.
Tsetan's friends and students in Maine have supported the school with donations, and will hold they plan to make an annual event, the Auction Fund-raiser for The Siddhartha School from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Maine College of Art's Baxter Building, 619 Congress St.
The event will feature silent and live auctions of art, crafts and services as a way to raise money for the school.
"We're just helping him out," said Cally Dow, an artist from Portland who has taken classes with Tsetan and is helping organize the auction.
Tsetan founded the school in 1995, with 25 children. Children in the area used to be instructed in the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism by schools in Tibet, but those opportunities no longer exist.
The school now has 200 students, from ages 4 to 13.
Tsetan first came to Maine about 10 years ago, and now spends a month or so each year teaching classes and workshops, where donations for his school are requested.
He'll be in Maine during April and early May. His complete schedule can be found on-line at www.siddharthaschool.org.
The Mainers who have taken the courses say Tsetan is not trying to convert them, and that his teachings of Buddhism help them in their daily lives.
"You don't have to become a Buddhist to use this," said Joli Greene of Freeport, who hosts some of the classes at her craft studio.
Items to be auctioned include: a day with Tsetan, Maine-made art and crafts, a half-day lobstering on Casco Bay, a one-year membership at the Portland Museum of Art, two handmade dolls in Tibetan costume, dinner for four on Peaks Island, two nights at a bed and breakfast, eight hours of art instruction and various gift certificates.
What: Auction Fund-raiser for the Siddhartha School
When: Friday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Maine College of Art's Baxter Building, 619 Congress St.
Program: Silent and live auctions to benefit the Siddhartha School in Ladakh, India, founded by Geshe Lobzang Tsetan. Tsetan, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, travels to Maine every year and the auction is organized by his friends and students here.
For more information: On the auction items, Siddhartha School, and Tsetan's schedule while he's in Maine, go on-line at www.siddharthaschool.org.