Wednesdays, astrologically recognized as an auspicious day for the Dalai Lama, has long held special importance for Tibetans. Thus Lhakar, meaning White Wednesday, has been a traditional day for Tibetans to express devotion to their spiritual leader and pray for his long life. However, in the recent years, the spiritual observance of the day has grown into a world-wide movement to embrace Tibetan identity and culture.
Lhakar Wednesdays gained a new wide spread cultural momentum with the start of a self-reliance movement by few young Tibetans in the aftermath of the 2008 large-scale protests in Tibet. This campaign that initially led to grassroots acts of resistance against Chinese commercial marginalization later grew into a crusade of creative expression and celebration of Tibetan values. Lhakar Wednesday movement today is widely acknowledged by Tibetans as an important day to uplift their Tibetan spirit.
Every Wednesdays, a growing number of Tibetans are making conscious effort to speak Tibetan, eat Tibetan food, wear Tibetan clothes and buy Tibetan-made goods from Tibetan owned stores. This movement has reportedly been observed in schools, villages, towns and nomadic areas in Tibetan inhabited areas in China. Reportedly boycott of Chinese vegetable stores to empower local Tibetan businesses in Nangchen, eastern Tibet have spread to areas like Dzaduo county and Surmang. Many Tibetans in Tibet have also taken pledges to observe Lhakar through creative ways that embrace their Tibetan being and identity.
In exile, Tibetan refugees have campaigned to use the homegrown Lhakar Wednesday movement into channeling their Tibetan spirit through different political and social activities. While some young Tibetans have started Lhakar blogs to talk about their identity as Tibetans and on Tibetan related issues, others have held communal gatherings to enjoy Tibetan butter tea and tsampa. The head of the Tibetan administration in exile Lobsang Sangay has also expressed his support of Lhakar and encouraged this movement.
Tibet in Review
discusses the Lhakar movement with Tenzin Jigme, International Coordinator at the International Tibet Network, Rinchen Tashi, China Analyst at the International Campaign for Tibet and Dhodhon Namling, video journalist at the Voice of America who has been wearing Tibetan shirt to work every Wednesday for the past two years.