DHARAMSALA, Dec 2: Contrary to earlier reports which suggested that the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama may not be present at the Himalayan International Festival to be held here in Mcleod Ganj over Dec 10-11, the Tibetan leader has now agreed to inaugurate the festival on Dec 10.
The festival is being organized by Himachal Tourism Department to mark the 25th anniversary of the presentation of Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The 79-yr-old Tibetan Buddhist leader was awarded the coveted prize in 1989.
Earlier there was much speculation over whether the Tibetan Nobel Laureate will be able to spare time for the festival organized in his honor as he is scheduled to attend the Nobel Peace Laureates’ Summit to be held in Rome on Dec 12. The venue of the Nobel Summit was shifted to Rome after several Nobel Peace Prize winners chose to boycott the summit, earlier scheduled to be held in Cape Town, over South African government’s denial to provide visa for the Tibetan spiritual leader.
“Though the Dalai Lama is going to Rome to participate in the Nobel Peace Laureates’ Conference scheduled to be held on December 12, yet he agreed to be part of the opening ceremony of the Himalayan International Festival at Tsuglakhang, the main Tibetan temple at Mcleodganj,” state Tourism Development Board vice chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia was cited by Indian news agency PTI as saying.
Briefing about the festival, Mr Mankotia said, “about 230 artists from Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan will participate in the two-day cultural programme……Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has also invited cultural troops from Russia, Mangolia and Bhutan to take part in the festival”.
He further said Himachali artists of seven districts will also perform at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) on December 10 and 11.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who will be in Dharamsala for the winter session of the legislative assembly, will also attend the festival with his Cabinet colleagues and inaugurate the festival jointly with His Holiness.
It is after a gap of ten years that the Himalayan Festival is being organized in Dharamsala. The festival, started in the 90s to commemorate the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was closed in 2004 due to financial constraints.