Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

2 March 2014

Thoughts on Losar ( Tibetan New Year)

My first Losar was with a Tibetan friend's family in Delhi in 2007. All I remember is freshness, joy, dancing with laughters.

In 2008, the year of Beijing Olympic, I was at another Tibetan family's Losar in Sevoke, West Bengal.
Only a little later, I came to know the wave of peaceful protests that had happened all over the Tibet.
Many people were killed, arrested and imprisoned.

After that year, Losar was never the same, to all Tibetan people me.

In 2009, a monk called Tapey self-immolated in Ngaba, Amdo, Tibet. He called for freedom and peace in Tibet and died in flame and more people followed his protest.

It was not till 2012 that I came to know more of on-going self-immolations.
In that painful year of 87 self-immolations, I spent some painful months in Dharamsala. Thousands of candles at vigils and butter lamps at the main temple stained out hearts. Although people were mourning with heavy hearts, there was a sense of being united,
sending our prayers together to the far away land.

The lost people's spirits seem to live with me and I am sure, with many others.

I hope that all my Tibetan friends have a happy and peaceful Losar gathering. At the same time, I take Losar as a day to think of those people who sacrificed their lives, are in prison at this moment, and to wish for peace, freedom and happiness.

Dear friends, I also wish that you are well no matter where you are right now and even though you are far away from your families. I send my sincere wishes that you will go back to your homeland soon, stepping on your own soil and reuniting with your loved ones.

A bridge of Peace for you. kusug tug chag nango dan kyippo tan.

On a cloudy and quiet morning in the west coast