Despite prior approval from the Department of Religious Affairs of Qinghai Province, a Kalachakra ceremony in the village of Samey-shi in Tsolho Prefecture, northeastern Tibet, was interrupted and a sand mandala erected for the purpose was destroyed.
The ceremony was supposed to last until July 23, but at the climax on July 18, the police appeared without notice and forced Lama Tashi Gyatso, who led the ceremony, and tens of thousands of pilgrims to leave the place. Despite protests from those present, the police destroyed the sand mandala by pouring water over it. All photos on social media, which also showed the opening ceremony with the reception of Lama Tashi Gyatso, escorted by horsemen carrying flags, were deleted by the censorship authority. The visitors who shared these photos on social media were also summoned for questioning.
In comparison, satellite images acquired by Radio Free Asia on July 16 and 20 show how an entire city of tents that housed visitors has disappeared from the festival site. The organizers had raised the equivalent of almost CHF 26 for renting the site, which will not be reimbursed. Most of the food they had already bought had to be thrown away.
The teachings during a Kalachakra ceremony can only be imparted by a few qualified scholars, including the Dalai Lama. The preparations for this take several days. Shortly before, the same ceremony, to be conducted by a local scholar, had been briefly banned in Gannan Prefecture; here, too, official approval had been obtained in advance.
Radio Free Asia, 20. July 2023; Tibet Watch, July 21, 2023 // dr. Uwe Meya
Photo: Radio Free Asia