Dharamshala: The Central Tibetan Administration led by the 15th Kashag dedicated the year from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 as ‘Year of Gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’ — a celebration of the 85 glorious years that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has spent and continues to devote to the wellbeing of all sentient beings.
Despite the unforeseen challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, CTA departments and offices as guided by the Kashag organised a host of activities and campaigns worldwide to celebrate the life and the still-unfolding legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama under the banner ‘Year of Gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’.
In an interview with Tibet TV (Watch here), the advisory board of the ‘Year of Gratitude’ campaign including Kalon Karma Yeshi, Department of Finance, Kalon Phagpa Tsering Labrang, Department of Security and Kashag Secretary Tsegyal Chukya Dranyi briefs on the ongoing campaign and its significance. The advisory committee was set up by the Kashag to facilitate the overall campaign.
“Today, many around the world view Tibetan refugees as the most successful refugee community with schools, settlements, monasteries and a full-fledged democratic Central Tibetan Administration to administer and oversee the welfare of Tibetan diaspora. Most importantly, the Middle Way Approach in resolving the Tibet issue through dialogue continues to be widely supported by many countries.”
“All these milestones have been achieved only due to His Holiness’ tireless endeavours and his extraordinary leadership,” the committee said. “Therefore, as a collective expression of our appreciation and gratitude, the Kashag on behalf of Tibetans around the world dedicated the year to His Holiness, and the immeasurable benevolence he’s endowed, especially, upon the people of Tibet and the Himalayan regions.”
The campaign announced from 1 July 2020 till the present was participated actively by Tibetans from all corners of the world despite the Covid crisis.
According to the Committee, CTA departments organised yearlong activities and programs focussing on promoting His Holiness’ teachings, and his four principal commitments with the view to uniting people in His Holiness’ vision for a happier, compassionate world.
The Department of Religion and Culture published a series of compilations of speeches by His Holiness the Dalai Lama given at various religious conferences and organized Rimé or non-sectarian scholars debate as well as essay contests, among others. As part of the Year of Gratitude program, CTA also funded the publication of Buddhist textbooks for students from primary level to 8th and 9th graders, an initiative of Kasur Kirti Rinpoche. The textbooks are catered for Tibetans and students of the Himalayan regions.
On His Holiness’ 85th birthday, the Department of Home organized a mass tree plantation drive across Tibetan settlements in India. At least 113 trees were planted in every Tibetan settlement to celebrate His Holiness’ affirmation to live 113 years. On the occasion, more than 10,000 different species of fruit and non-fruit tree saplings were distributed to farmers and settlers, to be transplanted in their respective settlements. This initiative is also inspired by His Holiness’ enduring campaign for climate change and environmental preservation.
The Department of Education organized essay contests in all schools on the theme of His Holiness’ legacy and commitments. His Holiness’ speeches on nurturing and educating children and other relevant speeches were produced in short videos and published widely on the internet. Teachers actively created storytelling visuals to educate children on His Holiness’ four commitments and many such activities were held across Tibetan schools all round the year.
The Department of Information and International Relations organized one of the largest panel of pre-recorded talk series on the four principal commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Around 150 speakers from 19 different countries speaking in 15 languages took part in the weeklong talk-series beginning 4 December 2020. The panel of keynote speakers in different languages included spiritual heads, Kalons of the CTA, renowned Buddhist scholars, professors, and heads of Buddhist institutes. Heads of the various Tibetan spiritual traditions also addressed the panel. Under the initiative of the DIIR and the Offices of Tibet, 85 video messages from prominent figures and friends of His Holiness around the world was released on the 85th birthday celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They included former US President, George Bush Jr, US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sport, GOI, Robert Badinter, former Minister of Justice, France, Indian Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, Prince Buthelezi, President Emeritus, Inkatha Freedom Party, SA, US Congressman, Jim McGovern, German Minister, President of Hesse, Volker Bouffler, Tim Loughton, MP and Co-Chair of APPGT, UK, Arif Virani, Member of the Canadian House of Commons, Kimberley Kitching, Member of Parliament, Australia, Lin Yin Meng, Member of Assembly, Taipei, Prominent Chinese Civil Rights activist, Chen Guangcheng and many prominent others.
The Department of Health organized free health screening for Tibetans aged above 40 across India and initiated and supported several other activities while fighting a global pandemic since the onset in early 2020.
The Department of Finance opened a children’s park at the State War Memorial in Dharamshala as a symbol of gratitude to the Himachal Pradesh government and people for hosting His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people for more than 60 years now.
As many of the activities are still ongoing and lined up in the remaining months, the committee appealed to Tibetans and friends around the globe to continue organizing and participating in activities within their capacities to create awareness about the life and four principal commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“For the Tibetan people, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the manifestation of Chenrezig, the heart and soul of Tibet. While we may continue to dedicate prayers for his long life, it is also important that as followers, we inculcate his teachings and constant advice in our day to days lives. As believed in the Tibetan tradition, this may strengthen the collective merit and contribute to advancing his life and wellbeing.”
The interview concludes with the committee asking each and every Tibetan to take a pledge to imbibe the thoughts and commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into actions in the times ahead.