Tuesday January 23, 2018

China bans a Tibetan festival as villagers refuse to fly Chinese Flag

Communities refusal to fly the Chinese national flag leads to the ban of the Tibetan festival

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Chinese flags fly at a Tibetan monastery in an undated photo. Image SOurce: Radio free Asia listener
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  • The Tibetan horse-race festival and a religious gathering were banned by authorities in China’s Sichuan province (was slated to be held on August 5)
  • The festival is called Sang-sol in which villagers burn juniper branches
  • The monks and Tibetan community refused to fly the Chinese national flag 
  • The race was to be held on August 5th but due to the possible protests against Chinese rule it was prohibited

There is another news of Chinese repressive regime in Tibet. Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have banned a traditional Tibetan religious gathering and horse-race festival after participants refused to fly the Chinese national flag at the events, sources in the region and in exile say.

The annual gathering, in which villagers burn juniper branches to propitiate mountain deities for timely rainfall and a good harvest, was to have been held at the beginning of August, with the horse race to follow on Aug. 5, a former Tibetan political prisoner now living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

The juniper-burning ceremony, called sang-sol, was organized by Dargye monastery in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the region.

“But this year, the Chinese ordered the monastery and Tibetan villagers to fly Chinese flags from the monastery and from people’s homes, and the monks and the lay community refused to comply, saying this had never been done before,” he said.

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“Authorities then prohibited the prayer gathering in retaliation,” he said.

The horse race and other cultural displays—including a lion dance and performances of traditional Tibetan opera-—were likewise banned, he said.

The monks and laity had already spent large sums of money to prepare for the events, he added.

Annual religious gatherings in Tibetan-populated regions of China have greatly increased in size in recent years, as thousands of Tibetans gather to assert their national identity in the face of Beijing’s cultural and political domination.

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Fearing possible protests against Chinese rule, security forces often monitor and sometimes close down events involving large crowds. (RadioFreeAsia)

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Indian ‘Spy’ Explorer: 12 Facts About Nain Singh Rawat

An Indian 'spy' explorer who worked for the British changed the exploration game

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Nain Singh Rawat was a spy explorer for the Britishers. Pixabay
Nain Singh Rawat was a spy explorer for the Britishers. Pixabay

Nain Singh Rawat, one of the first of 19th century Indian explorers, explored the Himalayas for the British. He determined the location and altitude of Lhasa, mapped the trade route through Nepal to Tibet, also a large section of the Brahmaputra. On 27th June 2004, commemorating his role in the Great Trigonometric Survey, an Indian postage stamp was issued featuring Nain Singh.

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Here are 12 facts about him you may not have known before:

1. He was born in a Shauka village, which is located in the valley of Johar in Kumaon Hills. The valley is famous for its ‘Bhotia explorers’ from the British Era.

2. Nain Singh used to help his father, visiting different centres in Tibet. He learned the Tibetan language, comprehended the customs practiced by the local people. All of it proved to be beneficial in the years that followed.

3. In 1855, he was recruited by the Schlagintweit brothers (German geographers), they had approached the office of Survey of India, which allowed them to proceed with their survey.

4. Afterwards, Nain Singh along with three family members went on his first exploration trip, travelling to Manasarovar and Rakas Tal, and even further to Gartok and Ladakh.

He changed the exploration game, which was mostly dominated by Europeans, by his work in Tibet. Pixabay
He changed the exploration game, which was mostly dominated by Europeans, by his work in Tibet. Pixabay

5. After working with the German brothers, Nain Singh Rawat was appointed as the headmaster of a government vernacular school in his village.

6. In 1963, Nain Singh Rawat and Mani Singh Rawat (his cousin), after being selected, went to the Great Trigonometrical Survery office in Dehradun. They underwent training for two years. They learned to use scientific instruments and ingenious ways of measuring and recording, and also, the art of disguise.

7. He was exceptionally intelligent. He quickly learned the correct use of scientific instruments like the sextant and compass, he could easily recognize all the major stars and different constellations.

8. He had donned the guise of a Tibetan Monk, as a part of the secret ‘spy’ exploration mission, to walk from his home region of Kumaon to places as far as Kathmandu, Lhasa, and Tawang.

9. He collected intelligence under the most testing conditions. Travelling closely with the local population in caravans, Nain Singh mapped the vast expanses of Tibet and its river systems.

Nain Singh met the Dalai Lama in 1865. Pixabay
Nain Singh met the Dalai Lama in 1865. Pixabay

10. He left the Trigonometrical Survey in 1865 to head out for Nepal with his cousin. Though his cousin returned, he went on to explore Tashihunpo, where he met the Panchen Lama, and later in Lhasa, he met the Dalai Lama.

11. While on his second voyage in 1867, he was exploring western Tibet. Nain Singh stumbled across the gold mines of Thok Jalung. He was awestruck by the humility of workers who only dug near the surface for gold. They believed that digging deeper was a crime against the Earth and would deprive it of its fertility.

12. In his last and greatest journey, he traveled from Leh in Kashmir to Lhasa. This journey was complete between 1873 and 1875.

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Nain Singh Rawat was honoured with a land-grant of two villages, in recognition of his fabulous achievements.  According to Colonel Henry Yule, “his explorations had added a larger amount of important knowledge to the map of Asia than any other living man”.