BY | October 27, 2011

Dharamsala, (IANS) Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay Wednesday set foot on Tibetan soil — brought here by US-based Tibetan artist Tenzin Rigdol.

“It has been the dream of many Tibetans to return to Tibet and set foot on Tibet’s soil,” he said in this Himachal Pradesh town.

“Many have passed away with that wish unfulfilled. Today, I am stepping on this soil as a gesture of our struggle to reunite with our brothers and sisters in Tibet,” said the senior fellow of Harvard Law School, who has never visited his ancestral land.

Lauding the efforts of the Rigdol, Sangay said: “The soil carries a tremendous amount of sentimental value in every Tibetans’ heart and soul.”

Rigdol has created an art installation titled “Our Land, Our People” in a playing field of Tibetan Children’s Village, a school run by the government-in-exile, with tonnes of soil transported from Tibet.

It has touched an emotional chord of thousands of Tibetans born and brought up in exile. For some, it was the first time in more than 50 years that they walked on Tibetan soil.

“It was really a nostalgic moment. It reminded us of the days when we were in our homeland. Now, I can die peacefully,” octogenarian Sonam Dolkar said.

Added youngster Tashi Dhondup: “My father died with a dream that one day he would return to his soil. At least, my mother now has a feeling of her native land.”

Rigdol, 29, thanked the audience for coming to the exhibition and added that it has been his father’s long cherished dream of returning to Tibet. Unfortunately, his father passed away before fulfilling the dream. Hence, he conceived the idea of bringing the soil to India.

He said 20 tonnes of soil had been transported for the exhibition.

He added that he has offered a sample of the soil to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at his residence and he was delighted to touch the soil.

“After the exhibition is over Friday, the Tibetans are free to take away the soil samples with them. This is for them. This will help keeping them close to their homeland,” an emotional Rigdol told IANS.

The Dalai Lama, along with many of his supporters, fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959.

He then headed a Tibetan government-in-exile from here which never won recognition from any country. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.

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