The Tibetan community celebrates 13th February as their Independence Day. Here’s a glimpse into the celebrations held in North Delhi.
Just a few miles away from University of Delhi’s North Campus, lies the Tibetan refugee colony of Majnu ka Tila (MKT). Such colonies help the general population know about the Tibetan community in India, a group of displaced souls still trying to regain their identity as their snow lion adorned flag flutters with the wind.
A NCERT political science book can tell you that it was on 13th February when the 13th Dalai Lama issued a five-point proclamation proclaiming an independent status for Tibet. But what is Tibet’s current status now, that is common knowledge that needs no textbook lesson. Yet, on the 13th February, a day before the universal day of love, Tibetans celebrate their love for their troubled motherland, their Rangzen.
The Rangzen Festival was held at Dussehra Grounds of Mukherjee Nagar. It was mostly the result of the efforts of the student collective called ‘Students for a Free Tibet.’
Since I reached early, I saw a few bands checking the sound system on the stage and a few food stalls being set up selling authentic Tibetan culinary classics like ‘la-phings’ and ‘momos’. One of the stall owners informed that the word ‘rangzen’ means independence.
Despite the deep sentimental value behind the fest’s name, it actually turned out to be an optimistic call for the Tibetan community to come together. There were a variety of rock bands, rappers, models, and dancers to grace the stage.
The diversity in the line-up was exemplified by the variety of genres that were explored. TibChik (short for Tibetan Chick), one of the hip hop performers is based in Netherlands rapped about the struggles she faced while growing up. There was a blues band, a traditional singer singing songs of love, a rock collective called Man Goes Human. Setting in a gentle vibe amidst the loud speaker noises, a gentleman with an acoustic guitar strung across his shoulder, broke in with an emotional rendition of Redemption Song by Bob Marley, an anthem on emancipation whose lyrics eerily seemed very similar to the Tibetan people’s current state. And as Bob Marley is a cult deity in the music circles of the eastern part of the subcontinent, the crowd also joined him in this ‘another song of freedom’.
Coming to the crowds, the diverse artists faced a horde of diverse viewers. There were a bunch of Tibetan and non-Tibetan students, some breathing out the cold air while some vaping out cigarette smoke. There were middle-aged couples along their children and monks wearing the typical robes of maroon and yellow. They sat, they danced, they moved their arms, and they probably felt as free as they could.
The dance session included everything ranging from a folk costumed dance called Tashi Sharpa to typical hip hop performance to a performance from a drag queen Mariko who moved rhythmically to mainstream Punjabi songs (the ones you would hear at every typical Delhi party). All of this carried on till the finishing act which ‘circled’ the stage at eleven in the night. The all legendary rock band Parikrama was one of the final acts!
Yes, this random assortment of artists was the beauty of this cultural event. Bored with the monotony of ongoing college fests these days, it felt nice to breathe a breath of fresh air in a students’ event where one stage was shared by both pros and amateurs, united for one cause, one vision.
As it wrapped up, it felt like I was witnessing a ‘mini live aid for Tibet’. Rangzen might not have been a jam packed or a much talked about concert, but it still succeeded at living up to its name (quite literally!).
Featured Image Credits: Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat
Shaurya Singh Thapa