A Big Thank You: Help Dhorpatan Appeal closes this weekend
Dear Friends! This weekend we are closing the Help Dhorpatan Disaster Relief appeal. On behalf of the villagers there, we would like to thank you all for your tremendous generosity – to date we have raised just over £5,000 pounds.
We hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about this remote area of Nepal that was home to the first Tibetan Refugee Settlement and is still home to many ethnic Tibetans, both Bönpo and Buddhist, as well as to Nepali families practising Hinduism. Like most of Nepal, this region can teach us a lot about living side by side with diverse neighbours.
To round off our appeal, we’d like to share with you some heartfelt words of Dangra Tenpa Wözer who fled Tibet with 32nd Menri Tridzin, Sherab Lodrö, and experienced the history of the Dhorpatan settlement since it was first established back in 1960. Dangra Tenpa Wözer passed away just weeks ago but his story lives on, thanks to Khenpo Gelek Jinpa who interviewed him in 2008. You can read his moving account in Bön in Nepal, a full-colour hardback book that details Khenpo Gelek’s journey to the settlement in Dhorpatan and other remote areas of Nepal where Bön has been practised for centuries.
An oral account of the history of the Dhorpatan settlement given by Dangra Tenpa Wözer
“Before, when we were first exiled from Tibet, I came out with H. H. Sherab Lodrö, Sir. First we got to Mustang, to Chumig Jyatsa. Tsultrim Nyima arrived there about then, too. Sherab Lodrö and he met, there in Mustang. And the Abbot told him: ‘We must find a place where our exiled Bön community can settle. We really must pull out all the stops for this.’ So Tsultrim Nyima promised. He said: ‘Whatever you need, I’ll do it. Whatever we have to do, I’ll do it.’
That winter we all stayed there with Sherab Lodrö and we spent the spring there, too, in Chumig Jyatsa in Mustang. When summer arrived, we all travelled to the village of Lubrak, and the Abbot Sherab Lodrö, Tsultrim Nyima and all his retinue went deeper into the valley. They stayed in the dense jungle. When autumn arrived, we went down to Lubrak village, met up with the Abbot’s party, and we all moved down to Pokhara. We stayed there for almost two months. That was when Lopön Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche arrived with his assistant Sherab Tsultrim. So everyone met and was reunited there in Phokhara. They were all really glad that Lopön Rinpoche had made it safely – he’d been shot by the Chinese, you know, Sir. All the lamas and monks were absolutely overjoyed to see him! So there we all were, a bunch of exiles and survivors, huddled together in Phokhara. The Bönpo lamas and monks and all the rest of us would sit round talking, trying to figure out what to do. They said: ‘There’s no point in staying here. It’d be better to go down to Kathmandu.’ So we had to go down.
I was just a young lad at the time, so I don’t really know what they were talking about, but they decided they should send a group of four of us – the abbot of Tsuktso, his assistant, Jyadur Tsawo and me – to Dolpo. We had to meet the Bönpo villagers and see if they had any texts, and then see what they were, how many and so on. They sent us to check it out, Sir.
Then Abbot Sherab Lodrö, Lopön Rinpoche, Tsultrim Nyima and all the rest went down to Kathmandu. They stayed in Namgyal Gompa, rented some space there, they did.
It was around that time that Lopön Rinpoche met Prof. Snellgrove and got invited to the West.
Anyhow, my group didn’t go down to Kathmandu; we stayed up in Pokhara. But after a few days, the Abbot of Tsuktso got really, really sick. Something was dreadfully wrong with his stomach, and he passed away, just got sick and died. So there were only the three of us and we didn’t know what to do, so we went to Kathmandu as well, we did. We joined the Abbot Sherab Lodrö and the others in Namgyal Gompa. Lopön Rinpoche had already left for the West.
So Abbot Sherab Lodrö and Tsultrim Nyima and all the rest of us, we spent the whole winter there in Namgyal Gompa in Kathmandu. There was one lama, Yungdrung Namgyal from Derge, and he and I, we had two mules and a horse, so they said we had to go to Dolpo and Mustang to trade. So we bought various goods, loaded the animals and went off to trade in Mustang. The abbot and lamas and everyone else stayed down in Kathmandu, Sir.
We spent all summer in Mustang trading. At that time, we heard about a place called Dhorpatan, a very beautiful place, so they said, and they were planning to make a Tibetan settlement there. The main officers in charge of it all was Tsultrim Nyima and Jyardur Tsawo. So anyhow, these two asked the government in Nepal for a place to stay and live, and I think that the government said: ‘Well, there’s Dhorpatan. It’s a really beautiful place, and it’s high and cold like your Tibet, so if you need it, we can let you have it if you like.’
So then the United Nations helped somehow, and Jyardur Tsawo took a plane or a helicopter or something to check it out. He reported back to everyone that it really was a very beautiful place, and cold, with lots of trees, and it seemed ideal. So then the Abbot of Menri, Sherab Lodrö, he decided to go and he said to the Nepali government: ‘OK, if you’re really going to give it to us, then we’ll go.’ So they did, I think, Sir.
At that time, the lama from Derge, my friend and I, we were still in Mustang, you see, and one day we got a letter from Abbot Sherab Lodrö and Tsultrim Nyima. They wrote: ‘Now we have asked the Nepali government and they have given us land in Dhorpatan so we can set up a Tibetan settlement. So we have a place. It is very good, and with the help of the UN, we are building something. So all of you, and all the nomad people of Trewa, Jyadur and Pongrong, all of you come. You should come here to join us. We are going there by plane from Kathmandu.’
We were helped a lot by the Red Cross, too, Sir.
So then all of us – the lamas and the nomads from Mustang – well, we all made our way there, too. The nomads from Trewa, Jyadur and Pongrong were mostly staying in Mustang in those days and seeing as how we were all Bönpos, we all decided to go to Dhorpatan and join the others, you see, Sir.“
Excerpt from: Jinpa, Nagru Geshe Gelek and Carol Ermakova, Dmitry Ermakov. Bön in Nepal: Traces of the Great Zhang Zhung Ancestors in Himalayas, The Light of the History of Existence, (New Delhi, Frosterley: Heritage Publishers & Foundation for the Preservation of Yungdrung Bön, 2013), pp. 231-233.
The Help Dhorpatan appeal ends midnight on Sunday, 16th August. All funds raised will then be transferred to the Nyerpa of Triten Norbutse Monastery who will oversee the distribution of food and other essentials to the villagers of Dhorpatan most in need, regardless of creed or ethnicity.
Final donations can be made by clicking on the button below:
Or bank transfer to:
Account Name: FOUNDATION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF YUNGDRUNG BON
Sort Code: 20-09-44
Account No: 43189716
IBAN: GB18 BUKB 2009 4443 1897 16
Thank you all once again. We look forward to sharing a photo reportage with you soon.
The FPYB team