Source: Mountain Phoenix over Tibet
My children belong to the third generation of Tibetans living in the West. To keep them interested in the Tibetan language and culture, I use music as one of my most valuable allies. Over the years, the search for child-friendly songs and dances has become something like a creative hobby with Losar, the Tibetan New Year, figuring as a prime motivator and highlight where the children get to perform what they have learned during the year. We would always pep up the performances with beautiful Chupas and accessories brought from our travels to Tibet.
Much like what North American Indians do at their annual pow-wow, Losar is something like our Tibetan pow-wow: We get together with friends celebrating our heritage by joining in dancing and singing, sharing stories and eating Tibetan food that we cook together. In the process we receive a boost for another year ahead of us and the children are able to reconnect with their Tibetan roots. That’s why this year too we will celebrate our New Year with all the bells and whistles. Losar is a ritualised event that keeps everyone positive and going.
I know we have been asked to skip festivities. But I believe it is not a wise recommendation. The daily stream of sad news coming out of Tibet is depressing and the hardliner response by China makes us feel helpless. In this situation, being asked to cancel New Year celebrations for the umpteenth time, could easily pull people further down instead of lifting them up. It’s like twisting the knife in the wound.
Being continuously asked to cancel celebrations is scoring own-goals because we depend on cultural festivals to keep our traditions relevant. We can’t be in national mourning forever. It paralyses our society. I don’t want my kids to grow up in a morbid and culturally barren environment where all we do is shouting during demonstrations and mourning in prayers. I don’t want them to subconsciously connect being Tibetan with negative emotions such as sadness, powerlessness, anger and uncertainty. If that’s where we wind up, then the sacrifice of the self-immolators is 100 % wasted.
Tibetan kids deserve to be happy, enthusiastic and self-confident like all other kids. I want to see them excelling in their Western environments, at the same time, knowing their Tibetan culture inside out. And I want myself as a parent to be able to set the example. For our kids and our culture to burgeon in the communities outside Tibet, I believe it is psychologically important to have something positive to relate to like Losar celebrations.
So here I am, sharing three songs from the broad range of contemporary Tibetan music that are fun and uplifting. I picked them for my Losar pow-wow because they don’t try too hard which is what makes them cool. They don’t have a big message. They don’t tell us: Speak Tibetan! Study hard! Work for Tibetan unity! I like these songs for this year’s Losar precisely because they don’t lecture, don’t plead nor mourn; they simply live it.
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