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Pavilion of Tibetan Culture Auroville
Patron: His Holiness the Dalai Lama
 

Newsletter
July 6, 2000
                                                                                                  

The Pavilion wishes His Holiness the Dalai Lama a very Happy Birthday and a Long Life.  

Grant from the Department of Culture
On March 31, the Pavilion has received a grant from the Department of Culture, Government of India. Not only has the sanction of this grant come in time to boost the construction, but it has been at many levels a very special 'present'. It shows the deep interest the Government of India has in preserving a culture which is on the brink of disappearance on the other side of the Himalayas. This grant in three installments will help us to complete the ground floor of the Pavilion and start the first floor. We will in fact be able to build the large Conference Hall on the first floor that we have decided to name after the great Indian Pandit Atisha who in the 9th century brought Buddhism in all its purity back to Tibet after two centuries of decline. This hall will be used not only for the activities of the Pavilion but will also be available for other Auroville functions when the need arises.  

Construction News 

We are now hoping to complete the ground floor sometime in September this year. Natural stones from Kadapah (Andhra Pradesh) have been laid in all the rooms and their polishing is going on. A team of 5/6 painters have been working for the past 2 months to put a first layer of primer paint on the beams and pillars.  We are planning at a later stage to call Tibetan artists to give a special look to each room, keeping in mind the advice H.H. The Dalai Lama gave us for the building: "keep it simple, close to the nature and one should have a feeling of contentment [santosham) while in the building". Most of the visitors have been impressed by the Exhibition Hall which is getting its finishing touches. After receiving the best technical guidance from friends working at the India International Centre and the National Gallery of Modern Arts in New Delhi, we have designed the high-ceiling room incorporating some of the best available features, including a lighting system which was procured from a Delhi-based manufacturer. The kitchen is also taking shape and the laying of tiles and flooring should be completed in a couple of weeks. The structure of the first floor has been started on one wing and by the end of the year most of the structure (pillars and beams) should be completed.
A lot still remains to be done and we have now to start again a fund-raising campaign to keep up the tempo and make the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture the first Pavilion to be completed in the international zone of Auroville.  

Career-empowerment for Tibetans
In March, the Planning Council in Dharamsala sent twelve young college graduates to Auroville for a workshop on Career Empowerment. The workshop was conducted by Marijke Lassche, an old friend of Auroville and a professional career counselor from Holland. Though the Pavilion is still under construction, we made some arrangement in the Pavilion itself to have a room relatively conformable for the workshop. The Project Officer for the PADME Project (Promotional Agency for Development of Micro-enterprises) and the career counselor of the Department of Education in Dharamsala were the leaders of the group. Most of the other participants were Regional Project Officers (REPRO) of the Planning Council. They are active in training, and assisting, unemployed Tibetan youths in different Tibetan settlements in India (the majority are school drop-outs).  The group leaders assisted Marijke during the course.

Marijke later wrote: "The members of the young staff were serious, could speak and write fluent English, though they were on their first jobs in this field. Their job is to help to direct the young unemployed Tibetan youths in the rural settlements to choose a profession they want training in, and to support them to set up a business after training. They also handle the accounts on the soft loans that Tibetan Government is giving to the unemployed youth for setting up their business. We hope that during their five day stay in Auroville, the trainees would have acquired some self-confidence and will be able to provide help to the unemployed youth in their respective settlements." Marijke expressed the hope that the Tibetan government will empower these young officers and that they will have "the courage to take initiative, to be positively critical, to listen to all, and be ready to help all."  

Monthly Lectures
Since our last newsletter, we had two lectures. One was given by Penpa Tsering, an MP (from Amdo) who is living in Pondicherry and who has been a constant support for our project, as well as for the young Tibetan living in Auroville. Penpa-la spoke on the "Democratization of the Tibetan society under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama". He explained how the Tibetan society was transformed from a feudal society to a democratic society in a few decades time since the introduction of the first draft constitution by the Dalai Lama in the early sixties and the formation of the first Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies. He elaborated on how this institution evolved under the leadership of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche as a fully democratic institution which is now electing the members of the Tibetan cabinet and monitoring the Tibetan executive of behalf of the people. He also detailed the functioning of the Tibetan government-in-exile which apart from the Legislative wing has a full-fledged executive wing and a nascent judiciary system. 
        The second lecture was given by Maj. Gen. K.K. Tewari (Retd) who spoke of the seven months he spent in Tibet as a prisoner of war after the 1962 war. He developed upon the circumstances which led to the Indian debacle of 1962 from the point of view of the army. The public was very touched by the narration of his prison days in a Tibetan monastery in Chongye in Yalung valley and the silent and discreet support of a few Tibetan Lamas. He spoke of the character of his Chinese jailors as well as the bravery of the ordinary Indian soldiers in face of the most difficult situations. Maj. Gen. Tewari is the author of a book, called "A Soldier's Journey to Self-Discovery", published by himself in Auroville in 1995. This book describes the journey of an army officer through his career, three wars against Pakistan and one with China who at the end decides to retire in Auroville, the city of universal brotherhood. Two chapters describe the Indo-China war and his ordeal in the Tibetan monastery.    

Future Programs
Though most of our energies go toward the construction of the Pavilion, we will be organizing a film festival in August. The famous Oscar-winning movie: "The Cup" directed by Dzonkar Kyentse Rinpoche will be screened on August 25. We are in the process of arranging some other films and videos in particular on Tibetan medicine as the subject is very popular in Auroville.  

Tibetan Medical Centre  
The monthly consultation of Dr Dorjee Rabten, Chief Medical Officer, Bangalore branch of the Tibetan Medical & Astro Institute (TMAI) is continuing regularly and every month new patients from Pondicherry or Auroville are added to the long list of those seeking Tibetan medical treatment. Apart from the consultations, we plan to start a research program in the plants and seeds of South India and their use and potentialities for Tibetan medicine. We have received an assurance from the TMAI, Dharamsala that they would collaborate with such a project based in Auroville which should open new avenues for the manufacture of Tibetan medicines.  

For further information, contact  
Claude Arpi, The Co-ordinator  
Pavilion of Tibetan Culture  
Auroville, 605101, TN India  
Tel: 91-413-622172/622136 
Fax: 91-413-622062 
Email: tibpav@satyam.net.in 
 


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