i heard that there was a protest against the olympic torch being in Lhasa and so I rocked up early this morning at the main temple. It ran like many other protests and started with some speeches (mostly in Tibetan) before the crowd formed an orderly line and walked to the main square in town, shouting slogans as they did so. I noted with interest that most of the marshalls of the protests and probably the organisers were Tibetan women in their middle ages. They wore their traditional dress but had chosen to wear green and so they were quite easily identifiable.
While the crowd was passionate, they were controlled and peaceful even if the women who were leading the chanting were clearly angry. Hence I was puzzled that most of the shops which were in the path of the protest were closed many with their metal shutters firmly down. I knew that many had been open in the morning. Perhaps the owners were at the protest, perhaps protests in india have a habit of getting out of hand, perhaps they closed for that time to express their solidarity with the cause.
With the olympics approaching in China, a lot has been happening in McLeod Ganj. There’s been weekly protests with this morning’s being the largest i have seen yet and there will probably be more. Many of the activist organisations here have been preparing for a long time. Unfortunately, as much of the information and notices passed around is in Hindi or Tibetan, I’m only peripherally aware of organised events and would not have known about this is one of my english students had not told me about it the day before.
This being a holy month for the Tibetan buddhists, the combination of the religious festivities with hundreds of people at the main temple every day and the growing events of Tibetan politics makes a strange sort of sense. I guess this is what the town is about after all – religion and the desire for freedom.