News and Views on Tibet

China imposes restriction at Kalachakra religious event in Tibet

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Thousands of Tibetans gathered at Zorgey to attend the Kalachakra initiation by 7th Gunthang Rinpoche (Photo/Twitter)

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, Sept 15: In yet another incident of clamp down of religious freedom of Tibetans in Tibet, Chinese authorities have imposed heavy restriction on Tibetan Buddhists from attending the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) initiation ceremony conducted by the seventh Gunthang Rinpoche, also known as Lobsang Jamyang Gelek Tenpe, according to information received by Tibet Times, a Tibetan-language news outlet based in Dharamshala. 

According to the report, the major Buddhist religious event commenced on September 14 and is scheduled to continue until September 17. The event is being held at Zorgey’s Mayma Gharnying located at the northern side of Labdrang (Monastery) Tashi Kyil in the so-called Gansu Province in eastern Tibet. The attendees included thousands of devout followers from three provinces of Tibet, China and Southern Mongolia. 

According to sources cited by Tibet Times, local Chinese authorities in Tibet have publicly declared restrictions on Tibetans from regions beyond Zorgey, disallowing them from participating in the sacred Kalachakra teachings. Despite these announcements, devotees from Tibet, as well as disciples from China and Southern Mongolia, have continued to arrive in significant numbers. It is estimated that approximately 900,000 people have gathered to attend the teachings.

The religious event has been described as “one of a kind” due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding it. Many devotees have had to walk from distant places like Khagya, Tsu City, and Dhokar due to massive traffic jams caused by the influx of attendees. 

On September 10, local Chinese authorities in Lower Zorgey issued a statement clarifying that the Kalachakra event is primarily intended for the residents of Zorgey. The authorities explicitly stated that no provisions or arrangements have been made for devotees from other locations. Those who had already arrived were advised to return to their places of origin to prevent road traffic congestion and management complications.

Despite hefty arrangements by the organisers to accommodate outsiders, Chinese authorities have cited logistical reasons to turn away pilgrims and devotees from the Buddhist religious event. The organisers had meticulously allocated space to accommodate devotees from various regions. Additionally, in response to the overcrowding, the organisers installed numerous television screens and sound systems, ensuring that everyone had access to the teachings.

The restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities on the execution of the Kalachakra initiation ceremony in Tibet, observers say,  highlight the ongoing struggle of Tibetans to practice their religion freely and underscores the importance of religious freedom in the region. 

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