Name: Tsewang Tenzin
Interview Age: 64
Date of Birth: 1950
Birthplace: Mukrum, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1960
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 19C
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, customs/traditions, escape experiences, farm life, festivals, refugee in India -- life as, pilgrimage, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang, monasteries -- relationship with , myths/stories
Tsewang Tenzin was born in Mukrum in Ngari. He lived with his extended, semi-nomadic family of over 16 members. His home belonged to his maternal grandparents who had not allowed his mother to marry his father. He talks about the various activities of the family members and how as a child listening to stories was one of the main sources of amusement.
Tsewang Tenzin enjoyed visiting monasteries on special occasions, when it was a joy to witness the dance performances by monks. He describes the spiritual practices followed by his family members, particularly during wintertime when there was less work to be done, which enabled his grandmother to go on retreat in a cave. He also explains how the villagers and monasteries were dependent on one another and the work the villagers would do for the local monastery.
As the Chinese occupation increased Tsewang Tenzin witnessed many thamzing 'struggle sessions.' He describes how they were organized, who did the thamzing, and the torture, humiliation, and false accusations. Even his own grandfather attempted suicide to avoid suffering under the Chinese. Tsewang Tenzin's family made plans to escape and he outlines how it was executed. He describes the journey, life after reaching India and the education he received in exile. He later became a teacher in the Tibetan settlements of southern India.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tomas Haywood (Videographer)