The Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC) in Etobicoke has made some changes since Losar last year. It looks like things are getting better for our Tibetan friends. While the prayer flags and two giant prayer wheels outside are the same as before, a sofa set is now in its wide hallway. It is a comfortable place to sit. There, you can browse its collection of Buddhist and Tibetan books.
Its huge main auditorium was set up for the New Year event with circular tables covered with immaculate, white table cloths. About 900 people attended. It was an impressive-looking banquet hall. Last year, we sat in rows of chairs. The tables were a great improvement.
The stage had low, carved and painted wooden tables behind which sat maroon and gold-clad monks. The men were chanting prayers. A procession of monks and representatives of the Dalai Lama then carried a picture of their spiritual leader and placed it prominently on the stage.
Many more children took part in the performances than I remembered last year. The TCCC gives lessons in Tibetan music, dance and language to over 100 students. It appears that Tibet’s unique culture is thriving in Toronto.
Young men danced with opera masks on their faces.
Children strummed Tibetan lutes.
The dances were interspersed with formal speeches. The biggest applause went to the Hon. Jason Kenney. Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was obviously very popular with the Tibetans, especially when he announced that Canada was cancelling its $550 application fee for each of the 1000 Tibetans who will be immigrating here in the next five years. He announced the formation of a new Office of Religious Freedom.
Jason Kenney was greeted with a white silk ceremonial khata around his neck, a Tibetan custom.
I was delighted to hear former Senator Consiglio di Nino speak about a group of Chinese and Tibetan young people in Toronto, who are trying to work together to find solutions to the impasse between the Chinese and Tibetans. The group is called “New Beginnings – Young Canadians Peace Dialogue on China and Tibet.” The Senator showed me a business card for the group.
Three men performed classical Tibetan opera. They sang so loudly that the children held their ears. Though I thought it was good, I had to hold my ears too. And there was hip hop, impersonations, and Tibetan pop music, which the children obviously loved more. There was a wide variety of performances and ceremonies from the deeply religious to the very secular.
Then some of us lined up for food. Rice, aema dhatse, tingmo, chicken curry, salad, phingsha, and shabril phingtsel. Please don’t ask me to translate. It was all good, a delicious combination of Tibetan and Indian flavours. Most people waited patiently in line for it while others played cards and chatted.
The event was well organized, complete with a printed program. I expect next year will be even better and I hope other Torontonians will join them then. For more information, the TCCC’s website is www.tcccgc.org. Its telephone number is 416-410-5606. The price for non-members at this past weekend’s Losar New Year Family celebration was $30. This included lunch, show, and a donation.