Every year, the Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), runs the Tibetan Arts and Culture Fund (TACF)program to recognize Tibetan artists and organizations working to preserve Tibetan traditions, language, art, and culture. The winners are awarded grants ranging from Rs. 50,000 to 3,00,000 to India, Nepal, and/or Bhutan based projects. This year, grants were given to the Tibetan Dubbing Society (TDS), Gonkar Choede Monastery, and the Tibet Memory Project.
TDS was established on 30th March, 2016 at Dharamsala in Norbulingkha under the guidance of Tenzin Chombhel dedicated to improving Tibetan language through dubbing of media. The preservation of the culture and language of Tibetans in exile has been deteriorating for the last two decades. So TDS is investing in dubbing foreign cartoons and movies in other languages to Tibetan language so children are able to learn Tibetan in an entertaining way. TDS plans on distributing these DVDs to Tibetan schools, settlements, monasteries, and Tibetans living in abroad countries. Through TACF, TDS received Rs. 3,00,000.
The dubbing process starts with obtaining a copyright license to dub the movie or cartoon into Tibetan. Next, TDS’s employees translate the piece into Tibetan and have that reviewed and edited by Tibetan teachers. TDS then assess how many actors are needed for the characters and gathers the most fitting actors. The actors then watch the piece to understand it and work 25-45 days to record, depending on the movie length. The piece then goes to the editors who edit and send the final copy to Delhi to upload online on TDS’s official website and social networks, and to make multiple DVD copies which will be sent to different schools, monastic institutions, and Tibetan settlements in India and abroad.
The main goal is to encourage retention and mastering of Tibetan language through an enjoyable and entertaining outlet. TDS hopes to better preserve Tibetan language to the next generation. They have been receiving positive feedback from Tibetan youth online and from screenings. TDS has released two movies thus far, and is optimistic about creating more content.
The next winner is the Gonkar Choede Monastery located in the Tibetan settlement of Khera camp at Laldang, some 45 kms north-west of Dehradun in the Uttarakhand State of Northern India. The Gonkar Choede Monastery is home to about 90 underprivileged monks studying and practicing Mahayana Buddhism. It is dedicated to providing Buddhism education through modern education in a monastic setting, scriptural seminaries, and philosophical studies.
The monastery practices the 500-year-old tradition of unique drum-dance which was revived by one of the monks currently at the monastery. However, it is hard to continue because of their tight financial constraint. This is due to the costume making for the dance, making it hard to gain recognition. TACF has awarded the monastery Rs. 3,00,000 rupees to help preserve the 500-year-old monastery’s cultural, religious, and traditional practices. The reward finances the appropriate costumes, proper training of performers, and performances for the culturally significant drum dance. In turn, this project will help restore the ancient drum-dance and tsog-mchot ser-ptring possession tradition.
Finally, Tsering Topgyal and Tsering Choephal were granted Rs. 2,00,000 for their Tibet Memory Project which aims to digitally preserve Tibetan elders’ old photographs kept in their possession, keep their stories intact, and document the first artefacts brought by Tibetans while escaping. They differentiate from other preservation programs by collecting more personal and connected stories related to the social and cultural realities of the first Tibetans living in exile. The Tibet Memory Project will follow through with their project by copying and recording old photographs, video images, and audio recordings which will be available through three different mediums: 1. a digital output (a webpage with audio & visual material) 2. A moving-exhibition with photographs and video clips 3. The publication of a book containing a sample of these old photos and the narratives attaching to them.
Topgyal and Choephal’s goal is to educate Tibetans about the history, traditions, aspirations, and struggles of the first Tibetans in exile which will also preserve the identity of Tibetans.