Festival celebrations: Very hard without a community.: Becoming Minnesotan

Thupten Dadak.
  • Name - Thupten Dadak
  • Age at interview - 52
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 07.26.2005
  • The Dalai Lama is presented a set of oral history project transcripts.
    Celebration of His Holiness' Birthday, Theodore Wirth Park, Minneapolis.

    We Are Here

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    When Tibetans began coming to the U.S. in the 1990s, there were only two Tibetan immigrants who were already living here in Minnesota.  The Tibetan Resettlement Project only allowed one person from each family to apply for a visa.  For this reason, it was common for one person to immigrate by himself or herself, and to file a petition to bring other family members later.  It was difficult for these Tibetans who arrived on their own to continue practicing their Tibetan traditions—especially on holidays and special occasions that would usually involve large gatherings of friends and family members.

    Tibetan New Year is one holiday that is celebrated by Tibetan people, although there are not as many festivities for the religious leaders living in the monasteries.  The Sixth of July is another one of these special holidays.  This holiday is the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.  

    To learn more about Tibetan history and culture, visit our Tibetan Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Thupten Dadak 3
    2:29 Minutes | 2.4Mb


    Narrator: Thupten Dadak (TD)

    Interviewer: Tsewang Sangmo Lama (TL)

    TL:  Tibetan New Year and, then, the sixth July, very important for all Tibetans. I want you to tell me how you spent or celebrated the Tibetan New Year and then sixth July when you first came to Minnesota.

    TD:  Well, I was by myself. I mean, that’s a very traditional — we celebrate coming year to wish to be your life to be successful and also to pray for world peace. We don’t have traditional way of doing; I’m by myself. But I do some offerings and do some try to meditate and do some little readings.

    That part of what I done with other Tibetans celebrating on New Year, I didn’t miss that much, because in the monastery, New Year is not the big deal. But I always miss Dalai Lama’s birthday, because that’s the same in Tibet. Either monastery or laborers, everybody joins in celebrations. The monks do the chanting in the morning. Then, they go to their community events and watch Tibetan dance and things like that. Most importantly to understand who is His Holiness, what His Holiness has done, his life. To benefit in the ritual as well as the whole world definite for the Tibetans and try to remember his kindness. That part very hard for seven, six years without a community. But I did my best when Dalai Lama’s birthday comes. Mostly by myself doing prayers for a long life for him and wish whatever he has liked to achieve to the peace of the world and whatever he has a desire for the future to become a success. That’s kind of—I did the prayers and things like that.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  An advantage, help or aid.

    Verb:  To be or to provide a benefit to.  (benefits, benefiting, benefited)


    Noun:  Type of singing done generally without instruments and harmony that requires the repetition of the same spoken words.


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.

    Dalai Lama

    The supreme head of Tibetan Buddhism, considered the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

    Listen to this word: 

    His Holiness

    A title given to the Dalai  Lama, the supreme head of Tibetan Buddhism and spritual leader of the Tibetan people.


    Verb:  To train, calm, or empty the mind, as part of Buddhist religious practice.  (meditates, meditating, meditated)


    Noun:  Place of residence for members of a religious community (especially monks).


    Noun:  A contribution given at a religious service.


    Noun:  A repeated set of actions, often religious in nature.


    Adjective:  Relating to a part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 146