On the beautiful spring morning of April 19 and 20, 2014, His Holiness the Forty- first Sakya Trizin consecrated the newly opened Tibetan and Himalayan Cultural Center at Tsechen Kunchab Ling. The ceremony was attended by Her Eminence Gyalyum Chenmo-la, Venerable Rinpoches, Khenpos, monks, and nuns, officials from the Tibetan government-in-exile, officials from the Village of Walden, the presidents and board members of various Tibetan and Himalayan Associations, and many members of the general public.
On that happy occasion, Tsechen Kunchab Ling’s abbot Venerable Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen explained the goals and significance of the Tibetan and Himalayan Cultural Center:
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, His Holiness the Karmapa, and all other great Tibetan lamas are strongly encouraging the preservation and promotion of Tibetan religion, language, and culture. In support of this, since 2001, we have worked to build a temple building and establish religious activities here as the seat of His Holiness Sakya Trizin in the U.S.
In addition to preservation and transmission of religion, His Holiness also encourages the preservation of Tibetan language and culture. Because of this, for the past ten years, the temple has frequently hosted cultural celebrations by many different Tibetan and Himalayan groups. Today, His Holiness is adding two new facilities to the existing shrine room: First, a library to promote the study of Dharma and help to preserve the Tibetan language, and second, a Tibetan and Himalayan Cultural Center for the celebration of Tibetan culture.
In this way, in the shrine room and religious activities, His Holiness is promoting the preservation and practice of Tibetan religion; in the new library, the study of Dharma and preservation of Tibetan language; and in the first-floor cultural center, the celebration and appreciation of Tibetan and Himalayan culture and its transmission to the next generation of children.
This dream of preserving and transmitting Tibetan religion, language, and culture is shared by many Tibetan and Himalayan associations, of which there are over 30 in the NY NJ area. Eight of those associations have become members of the Tibetan and Himalayan Cultural Center at Tsechen Kunchab Ling, and we are sure that there are more associations yet to come. The eight founding member associations are Sakya Tsechen Association, Tibetan Ngari Association of New York and New Jersey, Manang Samaj, Mustang Kyidug USA, Walung Community of North America, United Sherpa Association, Dege Kyidug of North America, and Ligdro Dechen Rolmo. We thank them all for joining us to make efforts together to preserve Tibetan and Himalayan culture and help to transmit it to the next generation.
However, interest in Tibetan and Himalayan Culture is much wider than just the Tibetan and Himalayan community and a few Western Buddhists. We are happy that the new library is developing joint programs and lectures with the local Josephine-Louise public library here in Walden. The new Cultural Center is also developing plans for joint exhibitions with the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island. Through partnerships like this, we hope that the new library and cultural center will help to explain Tibetan and Himalayan culture to the wider world.
We also thank the many sponsors and friends of the temple who have helped to make this vision of preserving Tibetan and Himalayan religion, language, and culture possible. We thank the Village of Walden and our neighbors a friendly welcome and encouraging support. We thank our architect and contractor for building this beautiful facility for us, Larry and Mary Hibbard of Hibbard Architecture, and Mark and Roseanna Annunciato of Liam Construction. Especially, we thank everyone for coming here today, to share this moment with us, and encourage you to return in the future to enjoy programs and activities here.”
His Holiness the Forty-first Sakya Trizin presided over the opening ceremony celebration, which included an offering of a daylong program of colorful dance and tuneful song from the eight founding-member cultural organizations listed above.