25th April is a very important date for all Tibetans. It is the birthday of 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima. And today is his 28th birth anniversary. But ironically, we Tibetans don’t know whether to rejoice or lament on this day. The 11th Panchen Lama was abducted at the young age of six by Chinese authorities, just few days after he was recognized as the reincarnation of 10th Panchen Lama by his Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since 19th May 1995, he went missing and he became the youngest political prisoner in the world. Another boy was reinstated as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Chinese authorities.  World wants to know about our real Panchen Lama but we are all clueless. Every year, we celebrate his birthday praying for his well-being and speedy release.

This year was no exception. T.C.V. school Suja remembered him on this day. Led by members of Human Rights Club in our school, a special prayer was held on Basketball ground in the morning. All the staff and students gathered on the ground and DSC_0477offered prayers for him. A minute long silence was observed for all the martyrs who has sacrificed their lives for our country and countrymen. Sangsol (incense offering to purify earth) was carried out after the prayers.

Then, all the students and teachers gathered in school hall for the main program. The main program included talk prepared by the members of Human Rights Club for the day. Master Wangchuk la presided the program and welcomed everyone to this auspicious occasion. He then requested our Director and Principal to lit butter lamp (offering butter lamp holds significant religious virtues) and Khatak (usually Tibet scarf offered as sign of respect and purity) in front of the portrait of the 11th Panchen Lama. Followed by the Director and Principal, our school’s boys’ and girls’ captain offered prostration and scarves to the portrait. The new member of the club also offered scarves to the portrait.

Then, Master Khenrab Woeser la, Miss. Kelsang Dolma la, Miss Ngawang Choedon la and Miss. Dhundul Tso la respectivelDSC_0497y delivered their speeches for the day. Starting with giving us a biographical sketch of His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama to the current situation of the 11th Panchen Lama, they gave us an eye opening speech. All the four speaker were very eloquent and skilled. They spoke with much confidence and poise. They gripped the attention of the audience throughout the program. By the end of their talk, the whole gathering was so well informed and educated about the both Lamas. Many misunderstanding and misconceptions that prevail about the 10th Panchen Lama by the Tibetans were cleared and known to all the unknown audience. The lifetime dedication and sacrifices made by the 10th Panchen Lama is unimaginable. He was imprisoned by the Chinese and the tales of his rigorous imprisonment of 9 years and 8 months in Chinese prison is so disheartening. The speakers gave us so vivid description of all the hardships he had faced in prison just for Tibet and Tibetans. Because 10th Panchen Lama was such a strong personality, the Chinese feared and abducted the 11th Panchen lama who was merely 6 years old.

The greatness of the 10th Panchen Lama is boundless. Our gratitude to him grew stronger today by listening to the talks of our remarkable speakers. In order to pay tribute to our 10th Panchen lama for his lifetime commitment towards preserving Tibetan language, culture, religion and restoring unity among Tibetans, the members of Human Rights Club in our school requested all the students and teachers to preserve our language and culture by learning Tibetan and giving importance to it. As His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche quoted, “Language is the root of one’s identity and Nation”, it is the duty of younger generations to preserve our identity by giving importance to our language and culture. Master. Tsering Dorjee la thus concluded the talk session by passing these messages.

After the talk session, Prizes were given away to the students for the Tibetan and English essay competition held few days back for the occasion. School’s Director acknowledged the winners by giving away khata and certificates.

Lastly, Our Director gave the final speech. He praised and applauded the initiation taken by the members of Human Rights Club on this special Day. He thanked each and everyone connected with the program and extended his full support in future for more of such initiations from the students. He gave his final words of advice to the students and requested everyone to remember this great man and walk on his footprints.

A candle light vigil and prayer was organised in the evening. Students and staff marched all through the school campus holding lighted candles. Whole campus echoed with sound of prayers from the marchers.

Long Live His Holiness the Panchen Lama!

Photo Courtesy: Tenpal