Living among the Tibetan community is full of wonder and joy. Though we are on the subcontinent, it’s slightly misleading to say I’m experiencing India in the Doeluging Settlement. This Tibetan community in exile feels insular from the surrounding Indian towns. Covering 4 acres in southern India, the settlement has grown tremendously in the last 30 years and is now home to 13k+ Tibetans, with 2 of the 3 “great monasteries,” a large nunnery, and 9 camps or towns.
We are staying in the Gaden Monastery‘s education center, right on the main road through town. December 23 was the 600th death anniversary of its founder, Je Tsongkhapa, and what is usually an annual celebration of lights was an outright, citywide hootenanny! His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is in town, bringing with him thousands of devoted followers from around the world (many in traditional dress, wow!) along with vendors, musicians, and transient families pleading for money from those striving towards compassion. It’s a scene!
We are here to assist the monastics in holding eclipse festivals for the community on the 26th. Needless to say, a celebration such as this is no time to teach astronomy. We’ve set up some loose times to start the activities after the celebrations, panels, and teachings, but until then, we are part of the magic and chaos. I am thrilled to visit some of the nuns I worked with on an earlier adventure. The first night we arrived, we had dinner at their nunnery, outside on the roof under a beautiful sky. My very tired kid couldn’t keep his eyes open and they whisked him into the kitchen and made him a little bed behind the sink. Their patience and kindness is contagious and already I am learning. Also, here’s a short album of some of the places that he’s slept so far with my pink scarf, including in a tuk tuk!