• Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times
His Holiness the Dalai Lama yesterday concluded his public teachings in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, telling thousands of his followers to maintain Buddhist culture in the northeast Indian state.

"It's important for us to preserve our traditions and our culture," he said. "You must work hard to preserve these."

His Holiness last visited Tawang in 2007. The town is of particular importance to him as, 50 years ago, he arrived there after fleeing Tibet on foot, and was given refuge by monks at Tawang monastery.

Thousands of followers have attended the teachings which began on Monday, many of them poor villagers who walked for miles through narrow and winding mountain paths.

Members of the local Monpa tribe, dressed in maroon and black wool coats and stiff black hats made of yak hair, were the largest presence, but attendees also came from across India, neighboring Bhutan and the West.

For many followers, the teachings have been tinged with sadness, as this may be their last chance to see His Holiness.

Yeshe Jamyang (77) told the Times of India, "I don't know what will happen to our religion and Tibet after him". Jamyang was with His Holiness when he escaped from Tibet. "This could be our last meeting. Both of us have grown old," he said.

It's not only His Holiness' age - 74 - but the possibility of China interfering in the selection of future Dalai Lamas that have begun to worry followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

This uncertainty was evident on the streets of Tawang. "China played foul when the Dalai Lama recognized the 11th Panchen Lama (the second highest monk after the Dalai Lama) over a decade ago," said Nawang T Thendup, another elderly devotee.

"Just as we've rejected China's Panchen Lama, we'll also never accept any Dalai Lama created by it. The Dalai Lama may also have his rebirth in India," he added.

His Holiness left Tawan this morning and will visit Buddhist monasteries around the state before going to state capital Itanagar on Saturday.

Cheap & Effective Advertising
E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com