Name: Tsering Dolma
Interview Age: 87
Date of Birth: 1930
Birthplace: Phenpo, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1957
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 20U
Location: Rajpur, Uttarakhand, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, pilgrimage, refugee in India -- life as, servitude, taxes, tenant farmers, Utsang
Tsering Dolma was born in Phenpo, Utsang Province in 1930. She was raised by her grandparents and began grazing cows at a young age. As a result of her grandparents' poor health, she had to perform a labor tax on their behalf, starting at the age of 13. The tax was imposed by a large estate owned by the local monastery, who leased land to all the villagers. The labor tax involved work inside the estate home and in their fields.
The tenants were also required to pay the estate with the crops harvested from the leased land. The field belonging to Tsering Dolma's grandparents did not yield enough crops to pay the full amount so they had to take out loans, which resulted in high compounded interest. Tsering Dolma recalls that just before the invasion of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama decreed that interest on loans be written off.
Tsering Dolma was given away in marriage at the age of 17 or 18. She went to live with her husband's family, but had to continue serving labor tax on their behalf. She and her husband decided to go on a pilgrimage to India at same time His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama did. The Indian Government generously allowed pilgrims to travel on the trains without charge. Tsering Dolma never returned to Tibet because the Dalai Lama went into exile in India before she completed her pilgrimage.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Tenzin Choenyi (Videographer)