The Regional Tibetan Association of Massachusetts is hosting an official ceremony and two Tibetan meals this weekend to honor the 84th birthday of the Dalai Lama on July 6.
This is the first year celebrations are being held since the association (formerly the Tibetan Community of Western Massachusetts) became a registered nonprofit. The events are free and open to the public.
“I think because of the work of his Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibetan identity is thriving in the outside world,” said Thondup Tsering, president of the Regional Tibetan Association of Massachusetts.
The 14th Dalai Lama is a global icon of peace and nonviolence and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The association has quoted him as saying “a more compassionate life is the best present on my birthday,” and the Regional Tibetan Association plans to serve vegetarian meals as he has requested.
Association members will gather at Tsering’s apartment Wednesday to make about 300 vegetarian Tibetan dumplings for lunch Saturday at the Not Bread Alone Soup Kitchen in Amherst from noon to 1 p.m.
“Tibetan dumplings … are a community meal where people come together, prepare together, cook and then eat together,” Tsering said. “The round shape of the dumpling is symbolic of that coming together.”
Tsering was born in Tibet, but grew up in Tibetan refugee communities in India after his parents fled the country in 1960 after the Tibetan uprising in 1959. Tsering said he has been actively involved with the Free Tibet movement, and was a member of the international board of directors of the Students for a Free Tibet in New York City from 2017 to 2018. He was elected president of the Regional Tibetan Association in January.
Recent efforts by the association, Tsering said, will lead state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and state Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, to issue a citation in Massachusetts declaring July 6 a day of love and compassion.
An official ceremony featuring speakers, Tibetan cultural performances and a birthday cake will take place at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Hadley at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Amherst Town Council President Lynn Griesemer and state Rep. Lindsey Sabadosa are invited guests.
On Sunday, Cathedral in the Night, a Christian group, will help host at Tibetan dinner in front of the First Churches of Northampton from 5 to 6 p.m. Dishes including meatless chicken curry, dal, and vegetable fried rice and noodles will be prepared by members of the regional association.