In a notice dated Sept. 10, the government of Dzoghe Mema (Chinese: Zuogaimanma) Town in Tsoe (Hezuo) city, Gansu, ordered thousands of out-of-town Tibetan Buddhist devotees, who had congregated to receive a Kalachakra religious teaching, to leave the town. The religious teaching took place from Sept. 15 to 17.
Visual evidence reveals that thousands of religious devotees defied the government order for the opportunity to receive teachings from their revered teacher. The International Campaign for Tibet is unable to track or estimate how many might have left the site due to the order.
Several thousands of Tibetan Buddhist devotees from far and wide, presumably from Tibetan areas outside the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region, camped at the teaching site for several days to receive the religious teachings from the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche. Gungthang Rinpoche’s Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) teachings took place at the grassland of Dzoghe Toema (Zuogaiduoma) township in Tsoe (Hezuo) city, in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu.
In video clips of the congregation shared on social media, a very large gathering of Tibetan Buddhist devotees could be seen, with thousands of white tents and some Western-style camping tents pitched on an expansive grassland.
Cancellations of Kalachakra teachings
Authorities had earlier canceled the religious event scheduled to start in July, citing the month as marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Unlike the cancellation in July, the authorities did not issue a blanket cancellation order this time. Instead, the Dzoghe Mema Town’s People’s Government ordered all out-of-town Tibetans to leave the town.
The notice categorically specifies that only the residents of Dzoghe Mema Town and Dzoghe Toema (Zuogaiduoma) Township could congregate at the religious event site.
Despite the government order, thousands of Tibetan devotees, who had already arrived at the site from afar, seem to have ignored the government order for the opportunity to receive teachings from their revered teacher.
Traditionally, Kalachakra, or Wheel of Time, Buddhist teaching is open and accessible to all Tibetans, irrespective of where they live or what they do. By limiting access to the teachings only to the residents of a specific area, the Chinese government is attempting to alter traditional Tibetan religious customs and limit the influence of authentic religious teachers while promoting in full zest government-backed figures as religious instructors.
Earlier in the year, a large group of Chinese officials accompanied by armed police in northeastern Tibet stopped and detained the organizers on July 19 of another Kalachakra initiation ceremony scheduled for July 20-23 at Samey-shi village in Gumong town in Mangra (Guinan) county in Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai. It was led by the ritual master Athi Kalsang Tashi Gyatso Rinpoche, the head of Athi Monastery in Tsolho Prefecture.
Translation of People’s Government of Dzoghe Mema Town announcement
Below is a translation of the Government of Dzoghe Mema Town’s announcement about the Kalachakra teaching.
The general monks and lay people:
At the request of the masses of monks and lay people in Dzoghe Mema Town and Dzoghe Toema Township, with the consent of the higher authorities, the Seventh Gungthang Tsang Lobsang Gelek Tenpi Kechen Trulku is scheduled to hold the Kalachakra from September 15 to 17 at Ji-nying Thang in Dzoghe Toema Township, Tsoe City.
This religious teaching is for the monks and lay people of Dzoghe Mema Town and Dzoghe Toema Township (the hometown of Gungthang Tsang Trulku), and has not been arranged as a venue for the monks and lay people of other regions inside and outside of the prefecture.
In order to make the religious gathering activities harmonious, stable and smoothly held, to avoid on-site traffic jams and people congestion, management chaos, etc., the working group of coordination and management for the religious gathering will persuade believers from outside to go back. People from other areas both inside and outside of the prefecture please do not go to the event site, and hope that monks and laypeople to inform each other.
People’s Government of Dzoghe Mema Town, Tsoe City
September 10, 2023