Moscow, Russia: The Moscow based Tibet Culture & Information Center (Office of Tibet, Moscow) organized a “Thank you Russia” tour in collaboration with Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. The group was headed by Kachen Geshe Dondup. The eight monks have had an extensive program throughout Russia since 6 July starting in Moscow. The second stop of the “Thank you Russia” tour was St. Petersburg where various culture programs were organized. The Tashi Lhunpo monks constructed a mandala at the Kunze Choinei Datsan, a Buddhist temple which was built in 1915.The temple was built from contributions of the 13th Dalai Lama and Mongols, Buryats, Kalmyks and Tuvans. During their visit to St. Petersburg, public lectures were held on issues of Tibet’s unique culture, religion and Buddhist art. Telo Tulku Rinpoche – Honorary representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Russia, Mongolia, and CIS countries was present for the opening ceremony and personally thanked longtime supporters and presented out mementos to Kunze Choinei Dantsan, friends of Tibet St. Petersburg and Margarita Kozhivnikova and Raisa Krapivina who are leading Tibetologists and Buddhologists in St. Petersburg.
“The people of St. Petersburg and the city of Lhasa share a unique relationship since the establishment of Kunze Choinei Datsan. Though Buddhism had existed in the traditional Buddhist republics under the Russian empire. After the collapse of communism we are happy to see Buddhism flourishing across Russia and I personally want to thank our old friends as well as our new friends for their solidarity with the Tibetan movement. The Tibet issue is for the preservation of Tibet’s unique heritage and for the survival of future generations of the Tibetan people not only in Tibet but abroad as well.” Telo Tulku Rinpoche said.
While Honorary Representative was in St. Petersburg, he paid a visit to the Central public library and met with staff members and presented books on Tibet ranging from history, language, culture, art, politics and folklore. The library has a small collection of books on Tibet and they had asked for assistance to increase the book collection on Tibet. The Office of Tibet Moscow and the St. Petersburg public library have an agreement since last year to collaborate on education and academic projects.
From St. Petersburg the “Thank you Russia” tour continued in Southern part of Russia in Rostov-on-Don. A photo exhibition of Tibet and display of religious objects were viewed by the public and the public had an opportunity to view the construction of a sand mandala and interact with the monks on various topics of Buddhism, Tibetan culture and art.
After the Thank you Russia program was completed in Rostov the next city was Astrakhan. On the way to Astrakhan the monks made a brief stop in Elista capital city of Republic of Kalmykia to visit the largest Buddhist temple in Russia. The monks were received by the abbot Anja Gelung who studied in South India at Drepung Gomang monastery and obtained his Pharchin Rabjampa degree.
In Astrakhan the monks were received by the local community of the village of Rechnoe in the Astrakhan region which is the place of the only existing remain of the Buddhist temples that were destroyed during the communist period. It was the first time that such a big delegation and event was held since it has been renovated by the Russian government. During the weeklong stay, the monk gave introduction lectures to the public and gave a performance of “Cham” ritual dance which was attended by the President of Kalmyk Republic and the Governor of Astrakhan regions as well as local government officials. Throughout the week-long program, Various rituals were performed, and the public expressed keen interest in Tibet as well as its Religion, Art and culture. People came from Kalmykia as well as neighbouring villages and cities. The local authorities and people were happy and invited the monks back in the future. From 16 August onwards Thank you Russia program continues in the city of Krasnodar and Sochi.
Report filed by OoT Moscow