Tibetan Americans make their presence in Washington, D.C.
Bhuchung K. Tsering
May 19, 2013
Some people might feel that I am making a mountain of a molehill today, but that is for good reason. The Tibetan American community in the Washington, D.C. area has finally made its presence felt in the Asian American community in this region. On May 18, 2013, the Capital Area Tibetan Association participated in the 8th Annual National Asian Heritage Festival that was held in the heart of Washington, D.C., in close proximity to the United States Congress and the White House.
Since May is designated Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asia Heritage Foundation (AHF) organizes events during this month to “share, celebrate, and promote the diversity of Asian heritage and culture through the arts, traditions, education, cuisine, and way of life represented in the Washington DC Metropolitan area.”
Even though Washington, D.C. has seen much grander Tibet-related events, whether it is the many days of the Kalachakra teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011, the Congressional Gold Medal event in 2007 or the Smithsonian Folklife Festival devoted to Tibet 2000, yesterday’s event, Feista Asia Street Fair, was in a different framework; it placed the Tibetan community in the Asian American family here.
And, it was certainly a coming out party of sort. The Tibetan troupe was selected the “grand champion” among the participants in the Cultural Parade that marked the formal beginning of the fair. Coincidently, during the line up for the parade, the Tibetan group became placed after the Nepali group and before the Chinese group; symbolizing the geographical locations of the homeland of the three communities. The Nepalese were pleased to see the Tibetans and there were several rounds of discussions in the Nepali language as well as singing of Nepali songs by Tibetans on the sidelines of the events. Among the Chinese participants there were some who joined the Tibetans, including in the traditional circle dance, but there were some who seem somewhat bewildered by the Tibetan presence this time.
The Tibetan adults performed a lively “Gyalshay” dance while the youngsters had an active “Droshey”, a ceremonial drum dance. They both represented the two generations of Tibetan Americans well and were well received by the audience.
In addition to CATA’s presence, there was a Tibetan from Maryland who had a stall, Dorjebajra Tibet Shop. There was a Nepali restaurant from Maryland that had a stall selling momos among others.
As we participated in the parade and mingled with the crowd subsequently, there was a feeling among the Tibetans that we certainly did not lag behind in terms of cultural richness or presence.
A small step by the Tibetan community in the Washington, D.C., but a giant leap for the Tibetan American community here; can I say this?