Despite the cold British weather about 40 Tibetans and their friends took part in Lhakar UK’s debut “Gorshey: Tibetan Circle Dance” in Beresford Square, Woolwich, London SE18 6BB on Sunday, 21st November.
Lhakar UK is a network of like-minded community members who engage in the preservation of peaceful Tibetan culture. “Lhakar” in Tibetan refers to the soul day བླ་གཟའ། of the Tibetan Spiritual Leader. His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama, the recipient of 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, is a leading moral leader in the world. The 86-year old Tibetan Leader continues to promote peace, love and compassion from Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration (aka Tibetan Government-in-exile), Dharamsala, northern India.
Woolwich has a long history with Tibet dating back to 1913. One of the four Tibetan “Rugby Boys”, named Sonam Gonppa Gongkar, who came on a Government Scholarship to study in the UK, in 1913, during the reign of His Holiness the Great 13th Dalai Lama, attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in London. Gongkar was also attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers for a short period.
Currently, Woolwich is home to over 100 Tibetans. Several eateries are also run by Tibetans in this booming town of London. There are about 800 Tibetans living in the UK. The Tibetan Community in Britain, which celebrated 50th founding anniversary earlier this year, organises regular cultural and socio-political events for its community members and friends of Tibet.
Tsering Passang, a co-organiser of this cultural initiative acknowledged the support given by the Royal Borough of Greenwich. He thanked Cllr. David Gardner, a former Deputy Leader of the borough, for his continued support for Tibet and the Tibetan people. Passang said that with Cllr. David Gardner’s help, this latest cultural project, initiated by Ugyan Norbu, an elder Tibetan resident in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, was materialised.
After taking part in the Tibetan circle dance, Cllr. Gardner said that he was pleased to see the Tibetan culture being preserved and thriving locally in the borough. Every weekend, a Tibetan language class for young children is being held in the Walpole Estate where Cllr. Gardner serves on its Management Board. He added that it was important to support the Tibetan residents to preserve their unique culture.
On 10th March 2021, the Royal Borough of Greenwich once again hoisted the Tibetan National Flag, attended by the Mayor, Leader of the Council and their colleagues. Cllr. Gardner added that the Council is able to continue with hoisting the Tibetan Flag annually as a show of support and solidarity with the Tibetan people who face persecutions for their fundamental beliefs in the free speech as well as universal rights in their home country, Tibet, which is still under occupation of the People’s Republic of China.
The Tibetan National Flag was first hoisted in the Woolwich Town Hall on 18th September 2015 to honour the arrival of the Dalai Lama to the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The Tibetan Spiritual Leader gave public talks at The O2 Centre the following day where the then Mayor of the borough met with the Nobel Peace laureate.
The next “Gorshey” session is being planned for Sunday, 5th December 2021 at the same place from 2pm to 4.30pm. As the weather is predicted to be colder in December organisers urge the participants to come prepared!