In preparation for the Dalai Lama's first-ever visit to New Orleans in May, the team behind his visit is organizing residents and businesses to hang Tibetan prayer flags April 20. Details of the flag-hanging event were still underway as Gambit went to press.
Presented by Tulane University's School of Social Work, more than 60 events will commemorate the visit. Beginning May 14, there will be a Tibetan bazaar at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center where monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will sell Tibetan crafts and goods.
The monks also will create a sand mandala, a large colored-sand painting made over four days. On May 17, the sand will be gathered and a procession will take it to the Mississippi River where it will be ceremoniously dispersed. The convention center will be open to the public 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 14-17 to watch the mandala being created.
The Dalai Lama will host two public talks (both already sold out) May 17 and May 18 at the convention center and the UNO Lakefront Arena. At the events, the 14th Dalai Lama will address "strength through compassion" and "strength through connection," respectively. He also will preside over an academic conference ("Resilience: Strength Through Compassion and Connection") where author Margaret Wheatley and psychology and psychiatry professor Richard J. Davidson also will speak.
Dr. Ronald Marks, dean of Tulane's School of Social Work and a chief organizer of the event, has led graduate social work student trips to Dharamsala in northern India for more than a decade.
The Dalai Lama, now 77, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his protest of Chinese rule in Tibet, which he fled in 1959. He makes two annual trips to the U.S. a year, typically in May and October, though this will be his first to Louisiana. He also will address graduating Tulane students at the 2013 commencement ceremony May 18.
— Alex Woodward