Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't Let China Steal Losar

Losar belongs to Tibet. Losar belongs to the Tibetan people. No one can steal it from us.

I live in a foreign land where Tibetan festivals hold no immediate meaning. Struggling onto crowded subways each morning and each night, avoiding the empty gaze of strangers, the ground I walk upon is many seas and skies away from my mountainous home. So why should I celebrate Losar? The real New Year is already past, any way. Well, the answer is simple: No matter where I live, I am Tibetan, and if I don't celebrate my own tradition, who will?

It has become clear that Chinese authorities have been encouraging Tibetans in certain parts of Tibet to celebrate Losar, even handing out cash for fireworks in some cases. Understandably, this pathetic attempt by China to hijack Losar has angered Tibetans, some of whom may have decided to skip Losar in a knee-jerk reaction.

To celebrate Losar just because China tells us to do so - that's a mistake. Likewise, to skip Losar just because China tells us to celebrate it - that's also a mistake. Our tradition should not be relegated to a mere reaction - equal or opposite - to China's demands. China should have no say in how we practice our tradition. We Tibetans must proactively decide whether, when, where and how to observe Losar.

Chinese authorities will tell us to celebrate Losar next year too, and the year after that. Are we going to skip every Losar just to make a point? If we really want to hit the Chinese government where it hurts most, we should observe Losar in all the ways that distinguish us from them. We should use the occasion to assert our identity - eat Tibetan food, wear Tibetan dress, speak in Tibetan, write Losar cards and door signs in Tibetan, light butter lamps and perform kora. Let khatas hang on the door and prayer flags fly in the wind, let the smell of tsampa and incense fill the air.

Messages from Tibet, via articles and poems, have called on Tibetans to celebrate Losar as an occasion to assert our identity, empower our spirit, and to distinguish ourselves from the Chinese. Many are using the power of visuals, creating heart-shaped images with the word "Tibet" inscribed on them, to play on the fact that Losar falls on Valentine's Day. I heard that in Lhasa, for example, people have done most of the shopping and are planning to observe Losar at home. After living under virtual martial law for nearly two years, sharing a hot bowl of guthuk and a sweet dish of dresil with friends and family will nourish the soul.

Though mourning is important as a symbolic gesture, it is politically useless beyond a certain point. Excessive mourning, instead of bringing the dead back to life, pulls the living closer to death. In fact, the best way to honor the our martyrs is to advance the Tibetan struggle for freedom - which is what they died for - and the best way to advance the struggle is to engage the grassroots through activism. People will participate in a movement that is vibrant, inclusive, engaging and dynamic. No one is drawn to a movement that is drowning in a pool of tears and self-pity and endless mourning.

Let's distinguish ourselves from our oppressors, not by our sorrow but by our spirit, not by our mourning but by our activism. If we want to advance our movement, and if we truly want to pay tribute to our martyrs, we must observe Losar by being Tibetan, by taking action, by taking a pledge.

This Losar, take a pledge to do something every week - if possible, every day - that will strengthen Tibetan people and weaken the Chinese empire.


  1. Hi Tenzin la,
    I heard that the Black at the White is going to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama in a so called private room.
    What is the hell the Americans politicians think of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. We Tibetans and our leader deserved more than that. Yes, it is the choice of the politicians in the US to kiss and jerk the asshole of the Chinese, but they have no right to play Tibetan as their playing card with China. Therefore, I think the Dalai Lama should refuse to meet the black man and immediately return to India.
    Fuck the black asshole and greedy Americans.
    Yarshong from Tibet.

  2. It is no great secret that the Americans are playing a game by meeting H. H. right now. Mr. Obama was insulted at the Climate conference in Denmark by the Chinese delegation. So now he wants to irritate them by meeting H. H. Our cause is being misused in the big political game. No one in the world wants to solve our cause. We Tibetans self have to do something about it. Look at the western politicians how they treat H. H. They show no respect for him. He should not beg them so much. Act directly with China. We can't just go on living with the HOPE that we Tibetans are so great in doing. We need something that ignites all the Tibetans. We are still sleeping! Frustrated Tibetan.

  3. China has stolen our country, why are you worrying about the Losar. You and I are here because China has stolen our land. What good is the Losar when you have no country you can be proud of, what good is the Losar when you can't even sing Tibetan National Anthem in front of the Potala! Tell me! China has stolen our country, identity, culture, language and everything to do with Tibet, they have minimised it to nationalities of China, so tell me why should I celeberate Losar? Soon they are going to steal our Hope and our soul, if we do not wake up soon and stop hopin on the fact that countries might do something for us. We should ask H.H. to lead us back to Tibet. We should ask him to talk to China directly and ask him to tell them that I (H. H.) want to come back to Tibet. Let's see what they answer then. Frustrated again.