Name: Gonpo Dorjee
Interview Age: 85
Date of Birth: 1927
Birthplace: Ganyak Jang, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 47D
Location: Tashi Jong, Tashi Jong, Himachal Pradesh, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: astrology, Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, customs/traditions, festivals, Kham, nomadic life, death/burial customs, houses/villages, marriage practices, songs/opera
Gonpo Dorjee was born in a place called Ganyak Jang close to Khampa Gar Monastery. He belonged to a large family and was the eldest of five siblings. His family was nomads and Gonpo Dorjee remembers going to the hills to look after the animals, making curds and butter and spinning wool. He talks about the ba, a tent made from yak hair, which was sturdy enough to withstand the snow.
Most of the festivals in his region were connected with Buddhism and Gonpo Dorjee talks about the cham, a performance by monks wearing different kinds of masks. There were also different religious festivals where lay people recited prayers. He tells about the various kinds of prayers: prayers for long life, to remove any harm and obstacles, when a person dies and another to bring wealth.
Gonpo Dorjee recounts his marriage that was a love marriage. He describes how boys and girls express their love through songs. He sings a few songs that express a young couple's feelings for each other. He also explains about different types of burials for the deceased and how stars and astrology are used to make predictions. He shares his understanding of Buddhist philosophy, which includes the idea of "cause and effect" and the importance of giving freely to others.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)