“Losar exhibition in Sint-Niklaas on 9th February 2013 organised by The Tibetan Cultural Center in Belgium”
With the help of Lungta Association Belgium, Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring (Tibetan-Flemish Circle of Friends), Rewa and Tibetan Social Service Belgium Chapter, the Tibetan Cultural Center in Belgium (TCC) held a Tibet culture day on the occasion of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.
Due to the current situation in Tibet, Tibetan communities are not celebrating Losar this year. Usual celebrations have been cancelled and replaced by prayer festivals to remember all those Tibetans who have self immolated to protest against the lack of freedom and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese regime.
However, on the special occasion of Losar, the Tibetan Cultural Center aimed to show the rich traditional Tibetan culture to the local Belgian people. Unfortunately in the recent years one can hear about Tibet more frequently in relation to sad and tragic events.
This is also one of the reasons why the beautiful aspects of the rich Tibetan heritage need to be emphasized to the general public, so that they can
better understand Tibet’s culture, political and religious reality. In coorperation with four other associations and the help of many individual Tibet supporters, the TCC presented the beautiful and positive aspects of the traditional Tibetan lifestyle in the city of Sint-Niklaas, in the Dutch (Flemish) part of Belgium.
On a cold but beautiful winter day, with prayer flags fluttering outside and the Tibetan national flag beckoning passersby inside the hall, a full day of activities was organised.
The festivities started with a welcoming speech by Mrs. Tamara Foubert, board member of the TCC and organizerand coordinator of the event. Tamara enriched the participants’ experience with her interesting presentations during the day and explained several aspects of the Tibetan culture.
Honourable guest Mr. Lieven Dehandschutter, Mayor of the city of Sint-Niklaas, took extensive time to see the exhibition with pictures, thangkas and books and to be informed about Losar and Tibetan cultural traditions.
In his speech he emphasized his interest for the Tibetan issue and the importance of keeping the culture alive. “I’m very happy to be here on this great event today. Immediately I felt welcomed here and I want to express my gratitude and congratulations to the organizers. Before this speech I took a look at the exhibition ‘My name is Dolma Tsering’ and I was very touched by this story. The Tibetan people need our support and I surely do support the peaceful struggle for freedom in Tibet.” Mayor Dehandschutter also refered to Mr. Jan Peumans, the Chairman of the Flemish Parliament in Belgium who is a very active Tibet supporter already for a long time.
At the end of the speech the Mayor declared the exhibition open and reassured the organizors of his support for other events in the future. Mrs. Tamara Foubert offered Mayor Dehandschutter a khata (silk scarf) to thank this honorable guest.
At the event there was an exhibition about Tibet with a large number of very interesting pictures and books, an amazingly beautiful Losar altar and the exhibition “My name is Dolma Tsering” – an exposition of the Tibetan-Flemish Circle of Friends, telling the touching story of a girl that fled Tibet together with her younger brother. The background of the texts on these panels were enriched by drawings and paintings made by child refugees in the refugee center in Kathmandu.
Wall panels displaying the eight auspicious symbols lined one side of the room, thangkas, statues, butter lamps and other religious artifacts lined the opposite wall.
There were information stands about the work of all the Tibet support groups taking part in this day’s program.
Monks chanted special Losar prayers and made a fire offering to purify the negativities of the past year and to start the new year with a clean slate.
There were artists present who offered calligraphy and lungta (prayer flags) printing workshops, there were musicians and singers as well as a dance group. In another room, various documentaries were shown.
At several occasions during the day, there was Tibetan music by Norbu Tsering (dranyen) and Tenzin Norbu (gyudmang) with singing and dancing by the Nangma Welfare Community.
Visitors enjoyed a full Tibetan buffet at the end of the afternoon. The meal started with guthuk, a special Losar thukpa (noodle soup) and included a range of other Tibetan dishes. Desert was tsampa cake, an unsual Tibetan sweet.
The event hosted 100 people in total. The reactions of the participants were enthusiastic and positive. With this event it’s very clear that Tibet is not forgotten and that there is a lot of interest for the rich Tibetan culture.
This Tibetan culture day was organized by the Tibetan Cultural Center in Belgium, in cooperation with four other associations and individual Tibet supporters. They all are going to continue to work closely together in the future.
By Catherine Gaspard, Dennis Barbion and Erika Patho. in Brussels, Belgium 12th February 2013.
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