By Tenzin Phende, Photo-editor
Lhakar is deeply embedded in me by now. For the past few days, I have been on a quest to figure out how do we, as Tibetans, celebrate and retain our Tibetan identity in exile particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 uprising in Tibet.
This time I went to one of the largest Tibetan NGO in exile, the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). Unlike all Tibetans in exile, both male and female members of the TYC central executive (centrex) do wear full traditional attire on Lhakar.
On this day, everyone comes in traditional attire and greet each other with a ‘Tashi Delek’ when they enter office. I was there at 9:00 am, waiting to see and feel how they celebrate Lhakar.
As the staff started pouring in for the day’s work, they signed the attendance book which was kept on a rectangle arm-level table.
Tsewang Dolma, Information Secretary, who I knew earlier offered me ready made Tibetan butter tea while waiting for other staff to enter. The day began with meeting of five NGOs discussing activity plan for upcoming 10 March uprising.
Everyone seems astounded to see me as few of them know me as photographer of CTA but the rest don’t have any idea as to why I’m there with a big fat camera. As the discussion veered on, I took few photos of them.
TYC Centrex is a small building on the way to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) having 10 central executive committee members, technicians, researchers and a cook.
Apart from the TYC Centrex President’s office, the other rooms are small and cozy with a warm feeling. Watching them doing some part of Lhakar pledge, I would like to request each and every Tibetan in exile to pledge following few line.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will speak pure Tibetan in my family.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will speak pure Tibetan whenever I meet a Tibetan.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will remind myself every day that I am a Tibetan till I die.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will wear only Tibetan traditional dress on every Wednesday.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will speak only Tibetan every Wednesday.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will learn Tibetan language.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will stop eating meat and only eat a vegetarian diet and gain more merit every Wednesday.
• I am Tibetan, from today I will only use Tibetan and speak Tibetan when I call or send a message to Tibetans.