-Filed by Correspondent Tenzin Choetso
Shimla: The long-awaited “Thank You Himachal” event kicked off today at the famous Ridge Ground in Shimla, the beautiful capital city of Himachal Pradesh.
The event opened with a special video message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in which, he thanked the government of Himachal Pradesh and its people for kindly hosting him and the Tibetan people for the past 60 years.
Shri Acharya Dev Vrat, Governor of Shimla, attended the event as the Chief Guest. Also present were Shri Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister of Shimla; Representative of the Chief Minister’s Office, Mahender Singh, Minister of Irrigation and Public Health; and other state government officials and dignitaries.
Addressing the gathering, Shri Acharya Dev Vrat spoke on the Indo-Tibet relationship that keeps strengthening each day breaking barriers. The chemistry of India-Tibet relationship has always been compared to that of a host and a guest. However, Shri Acharya Dev Vrat noted the relationship goes beyond the host-guest relationship.
“When someone visits temporarily we call it guest. But Tibetans have been living in India for the past 60 years that makes them a part of one big family” quoted Shri Acharya Dev Vrat.
CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay stressed on the grave situations inside Tibet while expressing his gratitude for the generous support of the Himachal Government and its people that has enabled the Tibetans in exile to establish Central Tibetan Administration in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
“It is a karmic connection that His Holiness the Dalai Lama came from Lhasa, the land of gods, and found refuge in Dev Bhumi, the other name for Himachal Pradesh which also means the land of gods,” noted President Sangay.
Other officials from CTA in presence were Deputy Speaker Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok; Health Kalon Choekyong Wangchuk; and Finance Kalon Karma Yeshi.
Shri Virbhadra Singh, former CM of Himachal Pradesh also gave a keynote address on India-Tibet relationship.
Just as Tibet is grateful to India, Shri Virbhadra Singh noted India too is grateful to Tibet and the Tibetan people for bringing their rich and vibrant cultural and religious traditions in India.
Expressing his best wishes, the former CM of Himachal Pradesh assured that soon Tibet will be free from China’s oppression and the Tibetans will return to a free country.
Mahendra Singh, Minister of Irrigation and Public Health complimented the Tibetan people for their effort into learning Hindi language as he noted is a great step towards strengthening India-Tibet relationship.
“Tibet’s struggle is not Tibetans alone but of India’s too as together we have travelled 60 years of Tibetans journey into exile” said Mahendra Singh. He further urged and encouraged the Tibetan people not to feel alienated as Tibetans are members of India’s one big family.
Underlining India-Tibet unshakable relationship, Deputy Speaker highlighted their shared cultural and religious values which he said, history is the testament referring to the Shimla accord.
Meanwhile, Finance Kalon gave the opening speech while Health Kalon gave the concluding remarks thanking all the participants for making the event successful.
Local Tibetan community members, local Indians, and many tourists joined the celebrations.
The event also saw cultural performances by the artists of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts followed by presentation of felicitation of Dharma Chakra to Shri Acharya Dev Vrat and former CM Virbhadra Singh.
“Thank You Himachal” is part of the official “2018 Year of Gratitude” as marked by the CTA. The year has been dedicated towards thanking old and new friends of Tibet and the Tibetan people.