Dharamshala: – In life, Nelson Mandela generated social change which resonated throughout the world. In his passing, the South African prisoner-turned-president reminds the global community of these historical ripples of change.
The Tibetan community is not exempt from these reminders, and it has linked arms with the global community to mourn the passing of this great leader.
The reverence for Mr Mandela reverberates within many Tibetans, and was easily visible on Saturday, December 7. On that day in the north-India mountain community of Dharamshala, the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibet movement's leadership in exile) organised a special prayer service to commemorate Mr Mandela's life.
The CTA reported that various Tibetans joined the event to offer prayers for the anti-apartheid hero, and combined those sentiments with prayers for the 123 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against heavy-handed Chinese rule.
The Tibetan political leader, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay attended the prayer service, during which he stated of the lifelong activist, "It is sad to see him pass away, but it gives us courage that his legacy of equality and justice that prevailed over unjust governments is inspiration for Tibetans." This theme of Mr Mandela's value to the Tibetan movement corroborated his observations from the day before, when he pointed out the leader's illustration "that no matter how much someone is oppressed, the justice and truth will prevail."
Of course, as a personal friend of the South African hero, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has played a very significant role in the ongoing tributes. He has maintained a perspective of respect for the past, while continuing to look to the future, particularly in entreating Tibetans to work for reconciliation and peace as Mr Mandela did.
Prior to Saturday's prayer service, deputy speaker of Tibetan Parliament Khenpo Sonam Tenphel expressed the CTA's condolences to South Africa's leadership and Mr Mandela's family: "We share with the people of your country the great grief of this irreparable loss. May his soul rest in eternal peace."