-by Lhuboom Tash for RFA Tibetan, 14 September 2023
Chinese authorities have barred Tibetans from attending a key Buddhist event called the Kalachakra out of fear that the gathering of more than 100,000 people could pose a threat to the government, according to Tibetans in the region.
The move to control access to the Sept. 15-17 sermon by prominent lama Gungthang Rinpoche Lobsang Jamyang Geleg Tenpe Khenchen in Gansu province’s Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture comes amid growing criticism of China’s policies in Tibet, where authorities restrict Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity.
In a Sept. 10 directive obtained by RFA Tibetan, authorities in Dzoege county – a part of Tibet’s historical eastern region of Amdo – said the sermon “is only arranged for residents of [the city of] Tsoe (in Chinese, Hezuo)” and that there “are no arrangements made for Tibetan devotees coming to attend from other parts of Tibet.”
“To maintain the religious activities pertaining to Kalakchakra in order, and to keep everything in control including crowd and traffic, non-resident Tibetans will not be allowed to go near the teaching site,” the directive said. “Those [non-residents] who have already arrived are instructed to leave the premises.”
The Kalachakra, which means “infinite wheel of time” in Sanskrit, is a sacred event where key Buddhist teachings are passed on to devotees. Only a very few qualified Tibetan Buddhist masters, including exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, can deliver such sermons.
A Tibetan in the region said that the sheer size of the audience for the Kalachakra had prompted authorities to restrict access to the event.
“The Chinese authorities have barred Tibetans coming from other parts of Tibet from attending the teaching because they are fearful of such huge gatherings and are being cautious of possible demonstrations against the Chinese government, said the Tibetan who, like others RFA interviewed for this report, spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
“More than 100,000 Tibetan devotees have gathered for this Kalachakra but, besides residents, Tibetans coming from Qinghai, Sichuan and other parts of the region are not allowed to attend.” Click here to read more.