When the Tibetan community went into exile with the Dalai Lama in 1959 no one expected that they would be there long term, that fact only started dawning on the exiles in the 60s, and it was then that they started thinking about the need to preserve Tibetan culture outside the country, just as it was slowly being destroyed inside.
Various projects were started around that time to pass on the arts and crafts that had been passed down in trade guilds and the like before then. The Norbulingka Institute was started in Dharamsala sometime around the 80s – 90s, and is different from most of the others which relay on donations for their continuance. This Institute has been a business from the beginning, but it is a business aimed at the welfare of its workers, not at the pockets of its shareholders.
They currently run programmes in many different areas of the arts and crafts, including thangka painting, metal statue making, woodworking, and applique. This documentary, which was filmed for a diploma course, by Apoorna Gandhi, talks to the teachers and students involved, as well as some of the administrators, about the unique outlook at the Institute and its objectives.
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