17th Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples Festival inaugurated in Paris

Senator Michael Raison, President of Tibet Group in French Senate offering scarf to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s portrait.
The 17th edition of the peoples of Tibet and the Himalaya began on a very sunny and bright day in Paris yesterday, notwithstanding the looming unpredictability of weather. The two-day Festival – June 10 -11 – is annually organised by the Maison du Tibet and Bureau du Tibet, Paris.
Senator Michael Raison, President of Tibet Group in French Senate and Representative Tashi Phuntsok inaugurated the festival amid chanting of prayers of invocation and sangsol led by Othok Rinpoche. A traditional lhagyal invoked the celestial deities to preside over sunny spring days – long deprived in Europe – and for the success of the Festival.
The Festival aims to showcase the diverse facets of Tibetan and Himalayan cultures – be it spiritual, cultural, arts (both monastic and lay), mediation, dances, films, foods, dress etc. The Festival has become an important calendar in the Parisian life. Held in the vast Bois de Vincennes Park in South Eastern suburb of Paris, the weekend draws Parisians out on the sunny and bright days to the leafy and placid environment, in droves.

Senator Raison, Rep Tashi Phuntsok and members of Sangha at the inauguration of the Festival.

Over 20 stands run by individual trading units of Tibetan and various associations cater to the visiting public. Stands selling Tibetan and Himalayan arts and artefacts, prayer flags to dress and decoration – form an integral part of the festival. Restaurants present sumptuous meals and momos. Music and dance create a background of festivity to relax the people who saunter and sit on the grassy green in front of the large stage – with a fulfull-lengthbetan flag and the portrait of His Holiness on the ceremonial throne.
But its not all song and dance. There are serious discussions taking place and films on serious matters shown in the tented location. For example, the afternoon panel on the subject of The Future of Tibet and Dharmsala tried to disentangle the complex and complicated issue of Tibet. The ever more looming global leadership of China under receding profile of the US, the transatlantic decades-old kinship in peril, the declining emphasis on fundamental values like democracy, human rights and environment – bode ill for Tibet.

Rep Tashi Phuntsok, Thutop Namgyal (Secretary, Brussels) and Namgyal Samdup (Secretary, Paris) supervising the Festival.

While showing slides on their visit to Dharmsala in March Mr Raison, however, expressed his utter sense of positivity at being able to see the Tibetan leadership and public at work at the 10th March Uprising Day Ceremony or the 12 March Women’s Day celebration. To observe the Tibetan parliament in session evoked great innovation that Tibetans have displayed in blending the traditional and the modern. Hs Holiness’ vision, for them, was apparent in display.
Senator Andre Gattolin, Vice President of Tibet Group, presented his understanding of most recent Tibetan elections. He was a member of the group that observed the elections. He was fascinated by the intricacy of Tibetan electoral system. At some point he saw similarity with French system – the two phases. However, there were issues that required review,  to which they had drawn attention to, through their recommendations.

A section of public at the panel discussion.

President Macron’s election and his meeting with His Holiness last September were mentioned prominently. Representative Phuntsok underscored the French peoples support for Tibet. The Mayors and Municipalities putting Tibetan flags in hundreds and enlisting of Tibetan towns and villages as sister towns and villages in France. Tibet groups in the both houses of parliament are cornerstones of Tibetan support. Therefore, in the current uncertain times, its all the more important to sustain the support.
Writer Ursula Gauthier, black listed by China because of work in Tibet, reminded how Chinese authorities see His Holiness and Tibetan activity in most sinister terms. The Tibetans in Tibet hold His Holiness at the highest pedestal. The Tibetans in Tibet have the latest knowledge of exile activities. Larung Gar has become the biggest centre Buddhist learning not only for Tibetans, or Chinese but other foreigners. Despite Chinese ruthlessness she is amazed at these realities.

A section of the audience at the film screening.

The Festival will conclude today evening when the Sand Mandala prepared for the Festival will be dismantled and immersed in the near by river.
The Festival was led by Mr. Namgyal Sampdup, Secretary Bureau du Tibet and Mr Jigme Dorji. Mr Thutop Namgyal and Mr Tenzin Rabga were deployed from Bureau du Tibet, Brussels to assist them. However, the success of festival is largely due to the volunteers who unceasingly help to make this massive organisation possible. To them the organisers express sincere commendations.
-Report by Bureau du Tibet, Paris-

Sangsol in progress.

Members at the Festival.

A long shot of some stands at the Festival.