A Mass Lhakar Pledge

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post! But I tried my best to make up for my delinquent behavior today.

Today for Lhakar, I attended a solidarity vigil, organized by Students for a Free Tibet Canada, for the martyrs in Tibet who have self-immolated for Tibetan freedom (3 new self-immolations in the last week). The vigil was held in Toronto, alongside vigils held today in New York and London. What made this vigil different from most others was that it was held specifically on Lhakar; and what made this evening even more interesting was that in Toronto and New York (maybe London, I’m not sure), it was decided vigils in these cities would be held every Lhakar from now on. This follows suit to what the Boston Tibetan community has been doing every Wednesday since 2008.

I personally think this is brilliant. Not only will this ensure the continuation of (and no doubt reinvigorate) our dedication to Tibet, but is somewhat of a mass Lhakar pledge. I’ve heard great things about how the Lhakar vigil has helped shape and strengthen the Tibetan and Tibet-supporting community in Boston, and am excited to see this take effect in more and more cities worldwide. This changes the idea of individuals taking the Lhakar pledge to whole communities taking the pledge together!

Before heading out to today’s vigil, my friend Tenchoe suggested we wear chubas to the vigil in line with Lhakar. My go-to black chuba was all worn out from excessive use over the last few months, and all my other chubas were ‘khoechen’  (shiny, pattern-adorned silk material) chubas which felt odd for a vigil, so it was time to bring out my all-time favorite chuba that my friend had gotten me when she traveled to Tibet recently.

Although I don’t think I have any khampa in my blood, I love the khampa style chuba, and asked her to get me one while she was in Tibet. This style (in my eyes) is tough (bad-ass) yet beautiful – the perfect combination – and perhaps stems from the fact that, for some reason, this idea is projected onto all-things-Kham to me.

Anyways, Tenchoe and I wore our chubas in the cold, and mine kept my legs warm since the material is much thicker and heavier than my other chubas; my friend said that when she was shopping for my chuba, all the chubas in Tibet were made of really thick material, makes sense considering Tibet’s climate.

While we were ate the vigil, I initially stood there silently like I usually do since my knowledge of Tibetan prayers is limited. Since I can’t really tell one prayer from the next except for the few ones that I do know, I had no idea that during most of the vigil, they were reciting one specific prayer over and over again. Tenchoe tried teaching me this prayer, repeating it slowly for me, but I couldn’t remember it except for the first line, and then the last bit of every line – I felt like a rapper side-kick, jumping in at the end of each line. So with Tenchoe’s help, I wrote down the prayer on my phone, and was able to join in the prayers afterwards, it was like reading an electronic ‘peyja’. Since several cities have now taken the pledge to have vigils every Wednesday, and I hope more will in the future, I thought it might be helpful to put up this prayer for those like me who don’t know it:

Jangchup semchook rinpoche
Maghey panam khey gurchee
Kheypa nyamba meypa yang
Ghong ney ghongdu pheyba sho

To end off the night, our plan was to go warm up at a Tibetan restaurant with some hot thukpa and bhoejha. But our hunger and frozen toes and fingers got the best of us and we ended up going to a nearby Japanese restaurant, which I guess seemed fitting because the huge shoulder pads in my chuba shirt – which I was told today is a big thing in Tibet, due to Chinese influence- always make me feel like a Japanese warrior.

Until next Lhakar, sayonara!