Tibetan Homes Foundation celebrates 50th anniversary

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama with students during the 50th anniversary celebration of Tibetan Homes Foundation in Mussoorie, India, on 17 September 2012.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama poses for a photo with students during the 50th anniversary celebration of Tibetan Homes Foundation in Mussoorie, India, on 17 September 2012. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal/India

By Lobsang Wangyal

MUSSOORIE, India, 17 September 2012

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama asked Tibetan students to pay as much attention to traditional Tibetan studies as they do to modern studies.

The Dalai Lama was speaking on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Tibetan Homes Foundation, one of the first Tibetan institutions formed after Tibetans became refugees.

He said that whether one is religious or not, the ancient Indian philosophies of Nalanda that flourished in Tibet are at the core of Tibetan culture, and must be studied along with modern education.

He said the thoughts from Nalanda are not “religion”, but mind science, which helps one to develop one’s conscience.

He also urged all ex-students to take responsibility as Tibetans in preserving and promoting Tibetan culture, and for the fight for a free Tibet.

The grand ceremony was attended by staff members of the Central Tibetan Administration, local Indian dignitaries, donor organisations, individual sponsors of Homes Foundation, and the local Tibetan community. Students of Tibetan Homes School and Central School for Tibetans presented a march past parade. Traditional Tibetan cultural performances followed.

The Dalai Lama said that the Homes Foundation was started at the suggestion and under the guidance of Maurice Frydman, a Polish Jew who came to India and converted to Hinduism, then becoming a close disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and friend of Nehru. Frydman “planned the setting up of the children’s villages”, and guided their development both “morally and practically”.

On 15 November 1962 three homes were established with 75 students under the care of Rinchen Dolma Taring. The Homes Foundation was formally registered with the Government of India on 23 April 1963.

The Homes School was in the beginning only a kindergarten. In 1987 it became affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). In 1992 the first batch of class 12 was graduated. Since then 1349 students have graduated from Homes School.

Over one thousand students are currently studying at the school. The neighbouring Central School for Tibetans, the first school for Tibetans to be founded after they became refugees, has over 700 students.

Around 400 ex-students joined in the celebrations, the majority of them from India. A few were from Switzerland, a few from the US, one from Canada, one from Russia, one from Bhutan, and more than 30 from Nepal.

After becoming an exile from his home country, the Dalai Lama first settled in Mussoorie. There the first Tibetan refugee school was inaugurated on 3 March 1960, as one of the Central Schools for Tibetans established with the support of then Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and financial help from the government of India.

One year later, the government of India moved the Tibetans from Mussoorie, establishing them in McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh.

Note: "It is believed ... that it was Frydman who persuaded the then India Prime Minister Pt Nehru to allow His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the other exiled Tibetans to stay in India. Frydman apparently pestered him continuously for months until he finally gave his consent." — from "Golden Jubilee: A Journey of 50 Years", anniversary booklet of Tibetan Homes Foundation, 2012.
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