Paris: The much-awaited annual festival of Tibet and the Himalayan people took place from 08-10 September in the lush green setting of the Bois de Vincennes, “green lung”- located in the east of the capital.
The 22nd edition of the festival was inaugurated on a hot Saturday that touched a sweltering 34 degrees. Over the years this has become a not to be missed event for the Parisians, Tibet supporters and festival lovers.
The official ceremony began with the procession of the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, being installed on the center of the main stage with a mammoth size Tibetan flag as the backdrop.
Ms Geneviève Garrigos, Municipal Councilor, City of Paris, Venerable Lama Thinley, co-President of Union Buddhist France, and Representative Rigzin Genkhang inaugurated the festival amid chanting of prayers of invocation and sangsol to purify the venue led by Khensur Thupten Tenzin Rinpoche, former abbot of Gyuto monastery, Gyuto monks and Venerable superior Thich Nhuan Huong of the Khahn Anh Vietnamese Pagoda.
Representative Genkhang, in her inaugural remarks, welcomed and thanked the audience for their participation and interest on the Tibetan issue. She further emphasized the contribution of the Tibetan community to the French economy and commended them for their peaceful co-existence with the French people.
Ms Garrigos expressed her joy to be present once again at the festival and extended full support of the City of Paris to the preservation of Tibetan culture.
UBF co-President underlined the importance of celebrating and welcoming events such as this one to remind people of the very much alive Tibetan culture.
Khensur Rinpoche urged the audience to remember His Holiness’ advice to practice non-violence while enjoying the festival.
Venerable superior Thich Nhuan Huong expressed solidarity of his people to the Tibetan people and called for peace in Tibet and the world.
The festival featured round table discussions on Tibet, Buddhism, contemporary Tibetan literature, Neuroscience and meditation, poetry reading, book presentations by Tsering Yangzom Lama and Pierre Antoine Donnet, Tibetan calligraphy, yoga classes, song and dance shows.
Representative Genkhang, Ambassador François Wu of the Taipei Representative, Mr Pierre Antoine Donnet, a scholar, journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of AFP, Mr Alain Wang, Sinologist and journalist, participated in a round table on the topic “Tibet in face of China’s strategy” on Saturday afternoon. It was moderated by Sinologist Marie-Holzmann.
During the festival, over 20 stands run by individual businesses, various associations, Buddhist centers and artists catered to the public. Majority of the stands sold a mix of Tibetan and Himalayan artifacts including spices. The festive ambiance created by the musical backdrop: dance performances on stage by dance troupes of the Tibetan Community, various Tibetan associations and weekend Tibetan school added to the event’s cultural richness.
The restaurants although catered mainly Tibetan cuisine including momos and butter tea, however the presence of other Himalayan cuisines delighted the taste buds and took the attendees on a culinary journey.
Simultaneously there were ongoing exhibitions, film projections on Tibet, yoga classes and sand mandala creation in the pagoda and the tents.
On late Friday afternoon, H.E. 2nd Kalu Rinpoche, lineage head of Shangpa Kagyu tradition, introduced the audience to a respiration and Niguma meditation session.
Friday and Saturday night concerts saw performances by well-known French artists such as: the Higelin sisters, Marl’n, Lagrain, Krishna Blackeagle; Tibetan artists: chordal chanting by Gyuto monks, Loten Namling, Tshering Wangdu, Kalsang Dhondup, Lobsang Delek, Dekyi Lhamo and DJ Kunga. Several thousand attendees sang and danced to the beat of the music until the wee hours.
The Festival conclusion on Sunday evening saw the guests participate in a last traditional circle dance before the dismantling and dispersion of the sand Mandala prepared especially for the Festival in the nearby lake.
Under the supervision of the Representative Genkhang, Thupten Tsering, Secretary, Bureau du Tibet, and Jigme Dorji, Secretary, Maison du Tibet, led the festival with assistance from Tenzin Nordhen, Accountant, deployed from Bureau du Tibet, Brussels. The Festival is made possible largely due to the contribution of hundreds of steadfast volunteers who show up to help every year and fittingly, during the closing ceremony Representative Genkhang and her team therefore expressed gratitude for their hard work with the offering of a traditional scarf.
This festival offers a unique opportunity, during the two and half days over 6000 Parisians, Europeans and others to come together and discover the rich culture of Tibet and the Himalayas. Maison du Tibet, cultural wing of Bureau du Tibet, Paris, have been organising the festival since 2000.
The next edition of the festival will return to the same venue at an unannounced date next year.