Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monks, monks and more monks

Every family is supposed to send a son into the monasteries to be a monk. There was a period in Tibetan history when numerous monasteries were built all the Tibetan empire and monks number in the tens of thousands. During the communist revolution, the Chinese army killed a lot monks, sent a lot home and destroyed numerous monasteries, destroyed a lot of Buddhist art, stole a lot of temple treasures. The memory of this is still ingrained in the hearts and minds of a lot of Tibetans. Today the Chinese has relaxed a lot of the restrictions because these monks and monasteries are a draw for tourism. But they still rule the Tibetans with a firm iron grip, not tolerating any descent at all. In spite of the intimidation Tibetans do come and riot once in a while as seen in 2008 when Lhasa erupted into a huge unrest, and this spread to other Tibetan areas in China including Labrang in Xiahe. While we did not see any military presence inside the town, there is a huge military installation just at the edge of town. Other than morning prayers, the monks are free to wander around town and hang out. They are allowed to go home to help with the farming chores. They have cell phones, wear fancy shoes, eat out and drop out of the whole shindig if they so chooses.

1 comment:

Merisi said...

Very interesting reports from Tibet, Anne!

Amazing images in all your posts.
Thank you,