Note: As this is kind of a summary of what I've learned about music, performing, and culture in Bylakuppe, I'm posting half now and half later. Stay tuned for the update!
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the great honor and privilege of performing at the Dalai Lama's birthday celebration in Bylakuppe. Before you think I am cooler than I am, no, His Holiness was not present in person. He lives most of the time in Dharamsala, so he would naturally attend his own birthday party there. All of the Tibetan settlements throughout India, and the Tibetan pockets and families in the rest of the world, hold some kind of celebration and puja wishing His Holiness many more years of health and leadership. It's more than just a birthday party, too - it's a chance for Tibetan solidarity and communion, for uniting around a single person who is a symbol of the cause, culture, and current political climate. The school where I spent most of my time these last three months or so feverishly prepared for the event, with special performance groups being organized and practice going late into the night.