To all my Mongolian friends out there, happy Tsaagan Sar!
This Tsaagan Sar, I find myself in McLeod Ganj, India… the home of the exiled Dalai Lama and quite a population of Tibetan refugees. In fact this place feels less like India and more like… well… Mongolia. This past week, Tibetans have been celebrating Losar, a three day celebration of the new year.
Typically, the holiday is spent at home with your family.
You wear your traditional clothing.
And you eat your traditional food.
In other news...
Yesterday, February 13th, marked the 100th year of Tibetan “independence.” I use quotes here because while they have claimed themselves an independent country, and have a treaty with China in which they were granted independence, China hasn’t exactly upheld their end of the deal.
It’s no secret that Tibet is in a state of crisis and its people displaced, but here in McLeod Ganj, I am meeting people who actually walked through the Himalayan mountains, risking arrest and death, to seek refuge. Over the past few months, Tibetans have seen a huge spike in self-immolations, usually young monks desperate to alert the world of the magnitude of the issue. Yesterday, on the 100th year of Tibetan Independence, the 100th person sacrificed their life by self-immolation. The stories are heart-wrenching and terrible.
But McLeod Ganj serves as more than just a sanctuary. Tibetans gather here in droves, organizing awareness events, resistance groups, doing whatever they can to further their cause. I find myself both horribly depressed at their suffering, yet completely uplifted by their determination.
Tibet will be free.