The Smithsonian's Folklife Festival 2000
File Photo, The Dalai Lama on the Large Screen at the National Mall Washington DC--His Holiness the Dalai Lama overwhelmed all that attended this years Folklife Festival.  Though this years Festival showcased the cultures and areas of Tibet, the Rio Grande basin and our capitol, Washington DC, the real reason people flocked to the national
The National Mall at the Folklife Festival
Sites At The Folklife Festival
mall was to get a glimpse of Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

The appearance of the Dalai Lama was preceeded by Tibetan Buddist Monks praying and chanting.  This all started before 9:30AM with the His Holiness scheduled on stage at 11:00AM.  I arrived at the scene by 10:00 that morning and the Festival looked deserted except the stage area.  I was surprised to find so many onlookers already seeking out the most strategic place to view this historical event.  The chanting and praying was soothing, the weather near perfect for Washington in the summer and people just kept coming.  The crowds spilled onto 7th Street,
US Park Police at the Folklife Festival
US Park Police
security was tight but not apologizingly obvious.  The crowds consisted of all types from our society, the YUPPIES, the DINKS (Double Income No Kids), the SITCOMS (Single Income Two Children Oppressive Mortgage), camera crews from all over, the joggers that run along the Mall, the Tattoo Group (self explanatory) and the Crowd People (those groups that appear at most significant events to pass out pamphlets and brouchures, in hopes of touching a few with their message).   It's was a peaceful quiet group, shoulder to shoulder, black to white, christians to western buddhist, all came anticipating the Dalai Lama.

I thought to myself that this stage, at this particular time would be the perfect place for His Holiness to make mention of the Tibetan people's flight from their own land in the 1950's after the invasion by China. 
The Crowds at the Folklife Festival
The Crowds
I thought it was inevitable for the Dalai Lama to mention his plight. It was a perfect setting, his stage facing the US Capitol, the Washington Monument rising gloriously from behind, all eyes and ears revited ahead, it was an ideal setting for a political speech.  I was wrong.

Unlike many religious leaders that have been on this stage before him, the Dalai Lama did not use this time to politicise, to forward his own agenda, to scold his western followers, or plead for help.  He did mention his people missed their homeland and wished to return.  What His Holiness said was the premise we all try to live by, and that is peace to others as well as to yourself.  To understand and be kind, to appreciate, to love.  I was touched that such an important figure, did not use this stage for any political speeches, no mention, not a word, not a peep, just passing along the words to be kind and gentle.  In my view, it was an ultimate act in selflessness!!!

Use the links on this page and others to find out more about the Dalai Lama, as well as see the cultures and peoples of Tibet, the Rio Grande basin, and our own Washington DC.
Tibet at the Folklife Festival Rio Grande at the Folklife Festival Washington DC at the Folklife Festival

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Other Resources:
Smithsonian Institute
Preserving Tibetan Arts
Tibetan Government in Exile
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