With the presence of H.H. the Dalai Lama in Bylakuppe, I, like all the people who had gathered here, began Losar, the Tibetan New Year, in a very spiritual note. Thousands of people thronged inside and outside of the teaching ground of Sera Lachi early on the morning of the first day of Losar yesterday. Everyone had come to receive the long-life initiatiion that His Holiness was going to bestow. Even though the actual initiation rituals began only around 7:30 am, people had started marking their seats as early as 2:00 am and by 4:00 am most of the seating area within the compound had been taken.
His Holiness arrived at the teaching venue a little after 7:30 am. As he began his preparatory rituals, he asked the gathering to recite the prayers to Dolma, the goddess who is known as the liberator. I thought that interesting because the term liberation has been much in vogue with the Chinese officials in their reference to Tibet. His Holiness then read his written New Year message to the Tibetans before he began the initiations. Given the development in communications technology, the impact to the Tibetan people of not only reading the message, but being able to see and hear His Holiness in person is great.
In the afternoon, I went up to the Palace ground where a sizable crowd had gathered. Although the program included the presentation of annual reports of the two settlements that are in Bylakuppe, the people obviously were there to get another glimpse of His Holiness and to hear him. The Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche spoke at length on various challenges to the Tibetan people, political, social and cultural, today and the need for being prepared for all eventualities. His Holiness intervened at quite a few times during the Kalon Tripa’s remarks to expand on some of his statements.
While fulfilling the commitment relating to His Holiness’ spiritual teachings is always a daunting task, it was apparent that even on his social message, the people needed much perseverance. In the course of his remarks His Holiness talked about the importance of environmental protection and said that on his way to the Palace, he saw some plastic bottle by the roadside. He said it was important not to throw such plastic materials like that because they were not degradable. Soon, after His Holiness left the venue and the crowd began to disperse someone pointed to me several plastic water bottles that were lying all over the ground and said, “His Holiness just pointed out the importance of not doing such a thing and look at what our people have done.” I understand the authorities were going to clean it up for there is an incense-burning ceremony scheduled today.
All in all the first day of Losar was a blisfully spiritual one.