30 June 2015
Trungkar is the Tibetan word for ‘Dalai lama ‘s birthday’ and this year marks the 80th Trungkar of His Holiness the Dalai Lama – celebrated on June 21, according to the Tibetan calendar, and July 6, according to the Western calendar. On July 6, the whole of Ladakh, where the Dalai Lama is revered and respected by Ladakhis and Tibetans alike, will be in festive mood. The Trungkar will be celebrated at the Jivey Tsal (Peace Garden), at His Holiness’ residence in Choglamsar, around 7km from Leh. Preparations will begin on July 5, with families and larger groups setting up around 100 tents and reserving areas for stalls, which will be filled with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, now available after the long, dry winter. The Trungkar will begin at the Jivey Tsal’s main temple at around 8am, with a long-life prayer for His Holiness and an incense-burning offering. The official function will be launched at 9am by the Chief Representative Officer, Sonamling Tibetan Settlement of Leh, Ladakh. All government and NGO officials of local and Tibetan bodies will be invited to the occasion. The programme will include speeches from invited dignitaries and traditional dances performed by Tibetans and locals alike, marking their mutual respect and friendship. After the function, the crowd will relax and enjoy picnics with family and friends. Food and drink will be available from stalls at the site. As well as local Ladakhis and residents of Sonamling Tibetan Settlement, the Trungkar is always attended by students and children who travel home from every corner of India and also from abroad. Reunions of long-lost friends are a common sight at the event. As the day progresses and the heat subsides, people will begin to sing and dance in and around their tents. Youngsters will enjoy modern English, Ladakhi and Hindi songs, whilst elders will join together for the Gorshae (traditional folk dances) of Tibet’s various regions. There will also be performances by the bands of the Indian Army Special Frontier Forces’ Vikas regiment and Ladakh Scouts, continuing until dusk. By the time people pack away their tents, they will be already looking forward to the next Trungkar, and dreaming that it might be celebrated in Tibet.