Just as the Irish celebrate the birthday of their patron saint St Patrick, the Welsh honour their patron saint St David and the Chileans hold a celebration day on July 15th for their patron saint Our Lady of Mt Carmel, the Tibetan community honours its spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama each year on his birthday. Members of Friends of Tibet (Auckland) and many supporters joined together for an evening function to celebrate the birthday of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness. There was a big attendance on the evening of 7th July a St Andrew’s Hall in Birkenhead, despite cold winds and frequent winter showers. Inside the hall the atmosphere was warm and friendly with Buddhist priests and followers enjoying the occasion. Also present were a growing number of young Tibetans who have migrated to New Zealand or been accepted as refugees. Among the guests were acting-president of the NZ Peace Foundation, Mrs Yvonne Duncan and her husband Harry. She helped host a special meeting of Foundation members with the Dalai Lama near the end of his recent visit to New Zealand.
Mr Thuten Kesang, president of the Auckland Multicultural Society, who is also the chairman of Friends of Tibet (Auckland) extended a warm welcome to all present and thanked everyone of their contributions to what followed as a sumptuous meal reflecting the cuisine of people of many cultures present. Focal point in the hall was a centerpiece photograph of the group’s spiritual leader with flowers on a table on which katas or silk scarves were placed by those who wished to pay their respects.
Thuten introduced two refugees who had the support of the New Zealand Government to be accepted as refugees. They who managed to escape from the occupied territory of Tibet by travelling through Mongolia. The two young men Chopel and Nyendak had been accepted for an orientation programme at the Refugee and Migrant Centre at Mangere. Mr Harry Duncan, retired from a distinguished military career commented to friends present that he served for a period as manager and co-ordinator of programmes at the Mangere Centre. All present applauded the two young men who seemed to appreciate the warmth of the reception given to them. Another special feature of the evening was a Tibetan traditional dance presentation of a Tibetan dances by Kunsang Jigme, whose authentic costumes, musical instruments leg and arm movements fascinated those present. His performances provided a good example of how traditional dances learned in one’s homeland can be carried and shared with people of other cultures in a new land far away from their own.
After a highly enjoyable buffet-style dinner the audience views a special video production directed by Mr Kevin Crossley, who followed the recent journey of His Holiness The Dalai Lama who presented speeches and workshops to large gatherings in Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland.
Report by John Buckland