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CHANDRAGIRI-MINI TIBET

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Chandragiri in Odisha, IndiaReport by; Manoj Kant Dash, Orissabarta

BERHAMPUR: With the passing of time, many lush green areas converted in to concrete jungles, whereever human localities established, but Chandragiri area in Gajapati district seems to be an exception. The area inhabited by few tribals in hamlets scattered and surrounded by dense forest and wild animals, during 60`s received human strangers, the Tibetan refugees.

Now, after more than four decades, the greenness of the vicinity remained almost same due to its distance from urban areas, but the tree as well wild animal numbers reduced to great extent. Nodoubt, the house number in the area increased as well the population, still many prefer thatched houses instead of concrete roofs.Oflate,the the life style of the Tibetan refugees uprooted from their homeland changed, but it confined to younger generation and the aged ones continued their living traditionally. However all of them are serious in preserving their cultural identity in spite of the attraction of the modern trend accepted globally. Inside one of the largest settlement of Tibetan refuges in Chandragiri area in southern Orissa's Gajapati District, called as the Phuntosokling Tibetan Settlement, robe-clad monks and the elderly in their "chapus'the traditional wear, mingle with the trendy youth, showing their changing lifestyle of a community in transition. The refugees are struggling hard to preserve their identity and live with a hope of returning to their homeland one day.Although,the Tibetans in exile remain fiercely protective of their culture, hardly influenced by proselytisation and sending their children only to Tibetan village schools, setupĀ  in all most all the settlements throughout the country. However the refugees are more inclined to Hindi films and songs have become popular among them. Since past some years, the Tibetans trying hard to provide the modern education to their wards, but the facility confined to a small section as most of the families prefer to engage their children in their business or work, what they opted after took asylum in various places in India.

Topographically and climatically similar to Tibet, over 600 refugees families were settled in the five camps at and near Chandragiri since 1963.They earn their livelihood by cultivation, selling dogs, weaving carpets, selling the winter clothes during the winter. Besides cultivation, businesses, weaving of carpet are their main occupation. While their woven carpets are in great demand in international market, they too engage themselves in weaving sweaters to sell. Particularly during the winter most of the Tibetan families seen with their warm cloth shops opened in foot paths in almost all the important cities as well towns in the country. In Toto, their hard work earned good money and most of them enjoying, still the memory of their own land haunts the elders and the younger are eager to return to Independent Tibet.

In India the Tibetans have their own ruling and representatives of their top religious leader Dalai Lama, appointed to manage the affairs of various

Settlements. Their endeavors to free Tibet as well to garner the support of others for their cause continued, what is evident from their rallies observed on specific occasions in various places in India and abroad.