In some places, the celebrations for His Holiness's birthday last three days. Here in McLeod it lasts all morning (even though His Holiness wasn't even here because he was in Washington D.C.). We headed to His Holiness's temple after yoga in the pouring rain and saw at the main entrance that we wouldn't even be able to get up the stairs and into the main courtyard because the crowd was so huge that it spilled down the steps. We pushed through anyway, refusing butter tea and accepting buttery pastries on our way, and managed to penetrate about ten feet into the crowd. Unfortunately, though we could hear the TCV students singing, the only way we could see the dancing children was on the display screens of tall people who held their cameras far above the crowd to snap pictures. For a few minutes we stood there, too uncomfortably close to the people around us to enjoy the festivities, and then decided that our time would be better spent watching the live broadcast on television. We pushed back out of the crowd and then decided that we might as well try the upper floors first. The second floor was no better than the first, but the third boasted small groups of students dressing up in their costumes and preparing to go onstage before the enormous crowd. We'd essentially found the backstage dressing room, so we settled in and took plenty of photos of the adorable little children in their bright costumes. Since we couldn't watch the dancing, we took the next best option.
|They learn to play these traditional instruments in extracurricular classes at the TCV|
|The kids were a bit shy about being photographed and nervous to go on stage|
|We weren't the only ones taking pictures of these cute kids|
|Three young performers|
|Older students wearing silk patterned chupas|
|Ready to perform|
|For exiled Tibetans in India, these striped aprons have taken on new meaning--they are now a symbol of marriage|
|Girls in elaborate costumes with long braids|
|Wearing a chupa and ornamental necklace|
|Tuning his instrument|
Later that night we headed to Lalita's birthday part at the yoga studio. We ate her favorite white sweets, birthday cake, samosas, bananas, and fruit juice. As a group, we bought her the most elaborate barbie doll we could find, and I think she really likes it!