Celebrating Dalai Lama's birthday in Majnu Ka Tila
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Celebrating Dalai Lama's birthday in Majnu Ka Tila

The celebrations kickstarted at 9 in the morning with a prayer dedicated to Lord Buddha

Celebrating Dalai Lama's birthday in Majnu Ka Tila

Majnu ka Tila is an ever-bustling hub, swarmed with people looking to get a taste of authentic Tibetan cuisine and Tibetan culture. The place is rightfully called 'Mini Tibet' in Delhi. However, on the occasion of the 87th birthday of Dalai Lama, on July 6, 2022, the place carried a different feel. It was quieter than ever and everything was soaked in authentic Tibetian culture as the whole community gathered in a small school to celebrate the occasion.

The celebrations kickstarted at 9 in the morning with a prayer dedicated to Lord Buddha. It was followed by welcoming the picture of Dalai Lama. Then, to bring good fortune and luck, tsampa (sattu) was sprinkled, a traditional ritual held at the beginning of any auspicious Tibetan occasion. The kids then wished Happy birthday to Dalai Lama with a traditional Tibetan song and a cake was cut to kickstart the celebrations.

People were dressed in beautiful Tibetan attires to celebrate the occasion. They sat around a central stage, designated for all the performances of the day. While a group was performing a traditional Tibetan dance on the stage, a lady dressed in a gorgeous 'chupa' tells us that the celebrations will go on throughout the day and the shops will remain close. On being asked about whether she will perform or not, the lady tells that she will participate in 'Gorshey', a traditional dance performed in circles which will be held in the evening. She tells that for Gorshey, the whole community comes together to dance, there are no spectators, and everyone dances.

Further, I gathered that a whole series of performances are lined up for the occasion. As the performances ended, all the performers were presented with white scarfs called 'khata'. As a group of young ladies awaited their performance, I ask them how long have they been preparing for it? Dawa Dolma, a young lady tells me, "We have been preparing for this for two weeks now. We will be performing on the song 'shardo chic thang dhokdo nye', a very popular Tibetan song."

Throughout the event, it was made sure that people are being served water and sweet rice, a Tibetan specialty. For lunch, all the performances came to a halt, only to be resumed right after lunch. People could enjoy a mix of traditional Tibetan and North Indian delicacies. Even though the food was purely vegetarian, no compromises were made on the taste.

An old Tibetan lady, Pema Lhamo, on being asked about how important such community events are, says that such events help the younger generations stay in touch with their roots. She says, "These events give the community a chance to come together to keep our culture and traditions alive. It is also a break from regular life. We welcome everyone who wants to be a part of our celebrations, no matter whether they belong to the community or not."

The preparations for the event begin weeks before the occasion. From practising the dance routines to deciding the menu, the community people put in a lot of effort to make the event successful. Tsering Dolma, a middle-aged lady, tells me that she has been so busy preparing for the event and overlooking everything and that she didn't really get to see the performances and enjoy the event.

All pictures credit: CitySpidey