Tibetans Take “Lhakar Pledge” to Assert & Preserve Identity

High Peaks Pure Earth translates “The Lhakar Pledge”, a manifesto for the growing Lhakar or “White Wednesday” movement. Proponents make a point each week of trying “to wear traditional clothes, speak Tibetan, eat in Tibetan restaurants and buy from Tibetan-owned businesses.”

1. The Nature of the Movement

This modest movement called Lhakar comes from the fact that I am Tibetan, and it is like a note reminding us that we are Tibetan in our daily life. Through this movement, we restore, renovate and keep our language, culture, identity and tradition.

Through this technique we can keep the people of the Snowland’s soul language till the end of humankind. This technique helps us retain Tibetan culture, Tibetan good morals and the traditions which are born from our soul language. This technique is easy and it is meaningful ….

I am Tibetan, from today I will remind myself every day that I am a Tibetan till I die.

I am Tibetan, from today I will wear only Tibetan traditional dress, chuba, every Wednesday.

I am Tibetan, from today I will stop eating meat and only eat a vegetarian diet and gain more merit every Wednesday.

I am Tibetan, from today I will only use Tibetan and speak Tibetan when I call or send a message to Tibetans.

Though the movement started in Tibet itself, it has also taken root abroad. On the Lhakar Diaries blog, for example, a group of young diasporic Tibetans is recording their expressions of cultural identity, such as exploring the history of Tibetan literature:

It wasn’t long ago that I thought Tibetan writing consisted largely of Buddhist scriptures, and some very recent poems and stories from Tibet and exile. But in the spring of this year, I took a course on this subject taught by Lauran Hartley (one of the pioneers in Tibetan literature studies) at Columbia and learned quickly of the immense scope and diversity of our nation’s canon.

Over the coming weeks, I will explore and learn more about everything from the history of Tibetan novels to the influence of Indian literature to autobiographies to corpse tales to avant garde poetry in the 1980s and more. I’ll share what I learn here not as an expert but as student of literature and an aspiring writer.

So let’s get started…what did the beginning of Tibetan literature look like?