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|March 31, 1999||
A home of one's own -- it is a yearning as old as humankind itself.
Across time, people have struggled, fought wars, killed and been killed, merely to own a little plot of earth, a homeland, where they could live free from fetters. And on occasion, when one set of people have been forced into exile, they have strived to preserve their culture, their own unique ethos, until such time as they could take it back in triumph to their native land.
The Tibetan people are symptomatic of the phenomenon. Ever since the Indian subcontinent rammed into the Asian land mass to create the Tibetan plateau, the natives have evolved a unique culture and lifestyle.
The annexation of Tibet in 1951, by the Chinese -- who cared little for the Buddhism practised by the Tibetans in their monasteries and living rooms -- signalled the end of an idyll, and the beginning of unremitting struggle.
The hitherto-peaceful Tibetans revolted in March 1959, only to be mercilessly crushed by the Chinese army. Thousands fled, to the relative safety of India -- and the chief refugee was no less than the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetans, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Forty years have passed. 40 years of exile, of struggle to maintain their unique lifestyle on alien soil even as they fought to regain Independence.
In that time, the refugees prospered -- as farmers, businessmen and professionals. And side by side with this progress, they managed to keep alive their language, their culture and religion.
And, come to think of it, even their polity -- with the Tibetans setting up a government in exile with the Dalai Lama at its head, with its provisional headquarters at Mcleodganj in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
Tibet -- the geographical entity -- may today lie in Chinese hands. But its spirit lives on, at Mcleodganj and other Tibetan settlements where the sights, sounds and smells, the ambience of their native land, has been faithfully preserved.
Rediff On The NeT marks the 40th anniversary of the uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama.
Reportage: Amberish K Diwanji.
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