On August 23, Dawa and his family welcomed a very important guest to their home: the Panchen Lama Erdeni Choskyi Gyalpo, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee and vice president of the Chinese Buddhist Association.
On that day, the Panchen Lama came to the Kelsong Community in Chamzhu Town, Nedong District, Lhoka Prefecture, Tibet. He visited the Exhibition Hall in the Community, made investigations on the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy, and visited with the families of Dawa and Benpa Tsering, another villager.
The 11th Panchen Lama visits the Kelsong Community Neighborhood Committee Exhibition Hall.
In May 1959, Kelsong Village was the first to carry out democratic reform in Tibet, establishing the region’s first rural primary Party branch. The main theme of the Kelsong Community Neighborhood Committee Exhibition Hall is “Historic Changes: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow of Kelsong Village”. It describes the tragic lives of serfs through artifacts, revealing the cruelty and underdevelopment in Old Tibet. Photographs record the happy and beautiful lives enjoyed by the people of Kelsong in the New Era, showing the distinct advantages of the socialist system.
After visiting the Kelsong Community Neighborhood Committee Exhibition Hall, the 11th Panchen Lama was quite moved. In an interview after the visit, he said, “The exhibition can help children understand what life was like in Old Tibet, and how the happy lives of today came about. It should help them understand that a happy life is hard to earn. It is necessary introduce this exhibition to more people so that they can be educated, and get inspired.”
The 11th Panchen Lama makes investigations on the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy despite the rain.
After visiting the Exhibition Hall, the 11th Panchen Lama braved the rain to learn about development achievements of the Kelsong Community at the Exhibition Hall Square. He inquired about the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy and visited ordinary citizens’ homes to understand their production and living conditions.
The 11th Panchen Lama learns about production and living conditions in the house of villager Dawa.
In order to welcome the Panchen Lama to their home, Dawa’s family had been busy since the early morning sweeping the courtyard and arranging a variety of fruits and drinks in their Tibetan-style living room. Dawa said, “The Panchen Lama coming to my home is a historical moment for my family. It is a great blessing.”
“What is the main line of work your family is engaged in?” “What about the annual income of your family?” “What is your main source of income?” “When was this house built?” “How do you get heating in winter?” The 11th Panchen Lama talked with Dawa in his family’s Tibetan-style living room. When he learned that Dawa’s grandson is in second grade and his granddaughter is about to start kindergarten, the 11th Panchen Lama tells Dawa, “Be sure to get the children educated. Children’s education is very important. First, educate them to have good characters, then educate them to be a useful person both to society and their ethnic group and the state. On this basis, they should learn modern social science and cultural knowledge.”
At the home of Benpa Tsering, the 11th Panchen Lama inquired about the health of him and his wife. “How much sun do you get in the winter?” “How much food do you normally eat? Is it enough?” Before leaving, the 11th Panchen Lama urged the two elderly people to pay attention to the nutritional balance of their food, saying, “In the new era, you will be able to live long lives. I will also pray for your health and longevity.”
After the visit, the 11th Panchen Lama prepared to leave by car. However, at this time, many Buddhist followers crowded both sides of the road and waited in the rain, hoping to receive a blessing from the Panchen Lama. Seeing this, the Panchen Lama adjusted his itinerary, getting out of the car several times along the way to offer blessings to the devotees.
The 11th Panchen Lama learns about production and living conditions in the house of villager Benpa Tsering.