Tibetans-in-exile mark New Year under shadow of immolations
Simla, Feb 11 : Tibetans-in-exile living in Shimla marked their New Year 'Losar' with prayer, the sounding of gongs in wake of a string of self-immolations and protests against Chinese control.
The traditional New Year or 'Losar' is a combination of Buddhist ceremony and family celebration observed across the Tibetan highlands and is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days.
But this year, unrest has overshadowed the celebrations and there have even been calls to shun festivities and instead pray for those who have suffered under Chinese rule.
Buddhist monks gathered at the Dorjeedak Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Panthaghati town of Simla on Monday to welcome the New Year with prayers.
"This year we are not celebrating the New Year on a grand scale because of the spate of self immolations by Tibetans against Chinese oppression. Over 100 Tibetans-in-exile have undergone the trauma of self-immolation. This year we are praying silently and refraining from large scale celebration," said a Buddhist monk, Nawang Zimpa.
Nearly 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule since 2009 across a large swathe of ethnically Tibetan regions, with most of them dying from their injuries.
China has repeatedly denounced exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and overseas Tibetan groups for fomenting the self-immolations.