Walking on a piece of Home

© 2012 Dlo08

(Khamtrul Rinpoche’s express’s how it feels to be so near (yet far) from Tibet. The video of this event is at the bottom.)

Last night I decided to ditch my work and watch the live broadcast of Tenzin Rigdol’s exhibition at Upper Tibetan Children’s Village school in Dharamsala, India. He managed to smuggle more then 2000kg of soil from Tibet so Tibetans in Dharamsala could step on a piece of home for the first time.

I have never been the artsy type. I thought the exhibition sounded kind of cool, so I decided to check it out, and boy was I in for an emotional evening.

After the inauguration and speech, by both the Kalon Tripa and Rigdol, it began. At first the monks, then the po-la’s (grandfathers) and mo-la’s (grandmothers), then the general public and finally the school children. After few minutes, when the soil was made open to the public, someone planted the Tibetan flag in the middle. Then someone else brought a large picture of His Holiness and placed it in front of the flag.

Everyone felt, smelled, tasted and ran their hands through the soil from Tibet. Most of the older po-la’s and mo-la’s examined the soil as if they recognized it and remembered something.

A few came forth and shared their emotions after walking on the Tibetan soil. For some, it was their first time on Tibetan soil, for others it evoked memories of a childhood left behind, and for others it reminded them of the soil they crossed to escape to India.

Almost everyone took some of the soil and put it in their pockets. The announcer had to ask several times to ask people from taking soil. He repeated that the soil would be available on the 3rd day, when the exhibition would close, but people still took a piece of home with them.

I remember this one po-la. His back bent from old age, using a cane for support. He walked slowly on the soil, assisted by a young Tibetan man, and sat. While little toddlers around him shifted through the soil, tossing it, turning it, throwing it, wondering why everyone was so interested in the soil around them. For a long time, the popo-la sat lost in thought with what seemed like a smile on his face. After 15 minutes he got up and came to the mike to share his thoughts. I don’t remember everything he said, but I remember parts of it. He said:

 “I feel very sad. I escaped to India in 1951 and since than, I have not seen my homeland. After walking on this soil, I hope to go back some day. We all have to work hard and regain our homeland!”

Another old Kusha-la (Monk), after walking on the soil, said:

 “After all the years in exile, I have grown old. Over the long years, I had given up the thought of ever seeing my home. But after walking on this soil, I feel hope, that soon I can return home. I want to go back. Everyone should know, soon, we will all return to Tibet.”

I have never seen older members of our community express their desire to return home so publicly. The way they felt the earth from Tibet and the longing for home it evoked were so painfully emotional. I feel the change in the air. I feel like I was seeing the sentiments of my people, young and old, born in Tibet and exile, being expressed for the first time together. We all will return home, SOON!

(Here’s the video of the whole event)