DHARAMSALA, Dec 11: The 20th International Himalayan Festival kicked off on Dec 10 at Hotel Bhagsu to commemorate the 26 anniversary of the conferment of Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Additional District Magistrate, Shri Balbir Thakur attended the festival as the Chief Guest and elected head of the Tibetan people, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay was the opening day’s Guest of Honor.
The two-day festival, organized by the Indo Tibetan Friendship Association with active support from the Central Tibetan Administration and Himachal Tourism Department aims to promote friendship and cultural understanding between the Tibetans and the local Indian community in Dharamsala and among those living in the Himalayan region.
Despite a few bouts of cold drizzle, hundreds of Tibetans, local Indians and foreign tourists attended the first day of the festival which showcased cultural performances by artists from various parts of Himachal Pradesh. Artists from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts opened the cultural show by performing Bharat Natyam, a classical Indian dance form followed by traditional Tibetan cultural performances.
Sikyong Sangay thanked the people and government of India for hosting His Holiness and the Tibetan people for more five decades and expressed his gratitude for the help and support provided by India to Tibetans in their time of need.
Sikyong also highlighted bonds of affinity and friendship shared by the Tibetan people with the local Indians as well as with others from the Himalayan region and stressed the need to maintain and uphold these bonds.
Shri Balbir Thakur spoke on the strong bonds of friendship shared between the Tibetans and the people of Himachal. He expressed hope that Tibet will be free on day and Tibetans will be able to return to their home country. However, he said, Tibetans are welcome to stay in the state of Himachal until that day comes.
Divisional Commissioner of Kangra and Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Mr Penpa Tsering will be the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honor respectively on the closing day of the festival.
The first International Himalayan Festival was held in 1995 to commemorate the conferment of the prestigious Nobel Peace prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness was awarded the coveted prize in 1989.