Cultural & Religious Preservation

The Tibet Fund has long recognized the sustaining role that Tibetan history, culture and religion play in maintaining the spirit and vitality of the Tibetan people. Innumerable factors such as China’s assimilative practices in Tibet, as well as challenges of economic integration, influences of globalization and host country acculturation in exile, continue to affect the preservation and continuity of our rich cultural heritage. To counter these challenges especially in the exile Tibetan community, The Tibet Fund has supported diverse programs and institutions and initiated new activities that empower the sustainability and promotion of Tibetan culture and language.

Over the years, we have supported dance and theater troupes such as the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, publishing and printing projects, films, oral-history and storytelling projects, the construction of libraries and the digitization of rare religious texts at the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives. Our sponsorship program provides ongoing support for hundreds of monks and nuns in the monasteries and nunneries that have been rebuilt in exile. Events have been organized in North America for Tibetan youths such as Summer Study Program, Mindfulness Retreat etc that serves as avenues to explore cultural expression and instill a deeper sense of ownership in them of Tibetan culture, tradition, language and the community.

ltwaPreservation of Rare Archives

The Tibet Fund has supported the preservation of rare archives of Tibetan religious culture. With the support from Dreams for Tibet, Susan Holgate and the Shelley & Donald Rubin foundation, The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala was able to digitize 35,000 hours of audio and video recordings including many old and rare archived materials. Support from Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation also enabled The Meridian Trust to build an Open Vault Project which serve as an open resource website. The Meridian Trust maintains the world’s foremost film archive of Tibetan Buddhist culture, with over 2,500 hours of unique and rare recordings.

Traditional Folk Song Preservation

nepal lhamoThe Tibet Fund has supported diverse projects that help to preserve the legacy of Tibetan folk culture and traditional songs. Some program highlights in this area are:

  • With the generous support from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, artists of Nepal Tibetan Lhamo Association learned traditional folk songs and dances from different parts of Tibet from their elders, and recorded the songs and dance choreography.

  • We supported Nepal Tibetan Lhamo Association in the production of Tibetan Opera: Dubthop Thangtong Gyalpo and also underwrote production of DVD about the project. This funding was used for research, rehearsal, costumes and performances of the opera during the Shoton or Annual Curd Festival held in Dharamsala in 2004.

  • We raised $5,616 from Wade Luther and Tenzin Jigme from NATEX to support Nepal Lhamo Association’s project to record and film traditional songs and ceremonial customs associated with traditional Tibetan wedding ceremonies. An additional $3,500 was raised from Galen Rowell Fund for this project.

  • Funds were also raised to establish a multi-media center at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts to videotape traditional operas, new opera compositions, and other works while the few original opera masters remain alive.

© Nepal Tibetan Lhamo Association

Tibetan Language in the West

As language forms one of the most aspects of Tibetan identity, The Tibet Fund works to support programs that ensure the continuity of Tibetan language. Program highlights in this area are:

  • We provided Tibetan textbooks to Sunday Tibetan language classes established by some of the Tibetan Associations in North America. We also supported the publication of children’s books in Tibetan.
  • From 1996 to 2001, The Tibet Fund hosted Tibetan language classes for Tibetan children from New York at our premise on Saturdays and later helped to find other class locations—two times at New York Association for North Americas and two other times at New York Public Schools—and also paid one-time financial support.
  • In 2015, we made a total grant of $20,000 to the Tibetan Language School of New York and New Jersey. We also contributed to support Saturday classes held for younger Tibetan generations in Seattle, Washington.

Geshema Examination

01With the support of $20,000 from late Kristin L. Johannsen. The Tibet Fund supported the examination expenses of the historic Geshema degree held in May 2013. A historically unprecedented process, the conferment of Geshema degree (an equivalent of Geshe degree or a doctorate in divinity) marks a new chapter in the education for ordained Buddhist women. Geshema degree is accorded to a nun after the completion of her study and training in the five major fields of Buddhist studies—logic, soteriology, philosophy, metaphysics, and ethics—in a monastic academia.

©Jamyang Choling (six Geshema nuns from Jamyang Choling)

16Mindfulness Retreat and Tibetan Language Program for Youth

In collaboration with Online Tibetan Education, The Tibet Fund organizes a three-day intensive program at Do-ngak Kunphen ling in Connecticut for Tibetan youth residing in North America since 2014. The program provides young Tibetans aged 18 and over who were born and raised in the West to engage in intensive study of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan language for three days. Participants from various places in the US were awarded formal certificates honoring their participation.

2016 Family Retreat photoBuddhist Retreat for Tibetan Families

In collaboration with Do-Ngak Kunphen ling in Connecticut, The Tibet Fund began to host a three-day Buddhist retreat for Tibetan families in Redding, Connecticut, since 2015. A total of 10-14 families participate in this retreat and found the experiences to enhance their understanding of Tibetan Buddhism.

Summer Study Program for Tibetan Youth

IMG_3409In collaboration with the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, The Tibet Fund organizes a five-week long Summer Tibetan Study Program every year beginning 2014. Held at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies at Sarah, the program provides Tibetan students studying in North Americas with an opportunity to learn Tibetan language, culture, history, and Buddhist philosophy. Students who participated in the program were able to gain an in-depth understanding of their cultural heritage, tradition and the exile community. They also visited important cultural and religious centers in Dharamsala including the offices of the Central Tibetan Administration.

Lama Mani Project

# 4 Lama Mani -1The Lama Mani tradition of oral storytelling has been part of the Tibetan culture for over 700 years. These storytellers play a vital role in the transmission of traditional wisdom on Buddhist principles and values from one generation to the next. In historical Tibetan society, Lama Manis toured villages and towns or attended social gatherings to explain the fundamentals of Buddhist principles, values and morality through spiritual songs and stories spun in a plain and intelligible manner. As this tradition was on the verge of disappearance, The Tibet Fund funded Tsering Rithar to make a film on Lama Mani Buchen Gyurme, the last known master of this tradition living in exile, and subsequently produced 200 DVDs of the Lama Mani film.

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