Photojournalism From Tibet in Exile

Everyday Exile Photojournalism showcases images from Tibetan exile communities, mainly in India. The goal is to educate viewers in other countries re: everyday life, culture and issues facing Tibetans who have fled Chinese-occupied Tibet.

All images copyright 2010-2011 by Tammy Winand and may not be used in any way without the express written permission of the photographer. Please contact via email for permissions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Explore Tibetan Culture Project

The Everyday Exile Project book is now available in both e-reader format and in print. You can find links to it at: My Bibliography

So...what next? is what I am in the process of figuring out!
Clearly my karma with the Tibetan community is not finished. There is work left to do, but the nature of that work, how I can be of best benefit, remains unclear.
The forthcoming features will be, for the most part, cultural, not political or activism related.
I am expecting many more photo essays, and in the long run, whether it be blog only or more books, to share more writing about this journey.
I very much want to share my experiences with Himalayan cultures, whether negative or positive, with the rest of the world.

If all goes well, I will be back in north India by November 2013. My "at the latest" goal is February 2014. The exact itinerary is unknown, but as before, I plan to visit Ladakh and Sikkim in addition to attending teachings by HH Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.

Because this blog is already established, I plan to keep posting here. The facebook page has now been combined with a page for all of my photography and travel writing. You can find that at Tammy Winand Author Photographer

Thanks to everyone who has shown interest along the way, and hope you will continue to follow wherever this leads.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tibetan Exile Community Activism

Collage of Images from Various 2011 Candle Light Vigils in McleodGanj
McleodGanj, HP, north India has been the exile home of HH Dalai Lama since shortly after he fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. It is the location of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile (CTA, Central Tibetan Administration) and home to thousands of Tibetans who followed His Holiness into exile in India as well as their descendants, some now as great as fourth generation exiles.

The community holds events through out the year, and on special occasions, to maintain their cultural identity as well as show solidarity with those still suffering in Chinese occupied Tibet. Candle Light marches and prayer vigils (pictured above) are held whenever a Tibetan sacrifices his life for the cause of freedom.

One of the largest annual events is the commemoration of Tibetan Uprising Day (pictured below).
Collage of Images from 2011 Tibetan Uprising Day Events in McleodGanj
Since 2011, tensions inside Tibet have once again been increasing. Reportedly the situation is worse now than since the 2008 protests

Today, February 8, 2012, has been declared a day for International Solidarity with Tibetans. Prayer vigils are taking place around the world, as well as peaceful protests by Tibetans and supporters in front of Chinese embassies from New Delhi, India to London, UK to New York and Washington DC.

Today is Lhakar, White Wednesday, a day when Tibetans traditionally "assert their identity by wearing traditional clothes, avoid using Chinese words and shop only in Tibetan-owned businesses.

US readers can sign a letter, in one simple step, addressed to their Senate representative, to support US Senate resolution 356 supporting the Tibetan people and encouraging the Chinese to open the region to international media, in addition to further steps.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Deity Masks

Across the Himalayan region, colorful and, to the uneducated western eye, bizarre or even frightening, deity masks are displayed on exterior walls and for sale at street side vendors. These masks are (usually) replicas of the masks worn at special Tibetan Buddhist ceremonial events known as Cham.

Bright red, blue, black or unpainted wood, these intricate carvings depict faces with bulging eyes, fangs, a large third eye, and sometimes crowns of toothy skulls. 

These masks have a long history, stemming from the time when Buddhism was just coming to the area now occupied by Tibet, Ladakh, and Nepal. One of the most important figures of this time is Padmasambhava, also known to Tibetans as Guru Rinpoche.

Guru Rinpoche came to Tibet from India to share the Buddhist teachings. At the time, the native people mostly followed ancient shamanistic religions, particularly Bon. Tradition holds that a great battle occurred between Padmasambhava and the old nature gods. Padmasambhava was victorious, subduing the old gods, who then had to agree to protect the teachings of Buddhism.

These dharmapalas, or protector deities, are depicted as wrathful figures. There are eight dharmapalas, but the one most commonly depicted is Mahakala.

The Cham dance commemorating Guru Rinpoche's victory is still held in Tibetan communities. I was lucky enough to attend one at Sherab Ling Monastery in the Tibetan exile settlement of Bir in India during 2010. The rest of images below were shot in Tibetan exile communities in both India and Nepal.

Masked Monks Waiting to Perform at 2010 Sherab Ling Cham

Masked Monks Performing at Sherab Ling Tsechu Cham

Multi-colored Mahakala Masks at a Vendor in Boudha, KTM, Nepal

Metal Deity Masks with Flaming "Mane" in Kathmandu

Aged Deity Masks Outside a Shop in Boudha

Deity Mask on a Shop Door
All images copyright Tammy Winand. Images may NOT be downloaded or re-used without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

For additional information on Deity masks, I recommend this article, Masks of the Himalayas, by Thomas Murray.                                         

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mani Stones

Mani Stones are stones featuring carved mantras, most often the Chenrezig Buddha of Compassion mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum. They may be heaped together in mounds or walls, and often appear near Buddhist places of worship (temples, stupas, holy lakes and mountains, or remote places where strong spirit presences are believed to exist).

The following are some examples I have come across during my travels in Tibetan exile communities in northern India:
Mani Stone Outside the Main Temple of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama-McleodGanj, India
Mani Stones and Image of Guru Rinpoche near Tsuglakhang, McleodGanj

Mani Stones, including a Kalachakra Mantra, at Tsuglakhang

Mani Stone Pile Outside Choekling Monastery in Bir Tibetan Settlement

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tibetan Buddhist Shrines

In Buddhism, a shrine or altar appears in almost every home and public space. Shrines are a place where offerings to the Buddhas and other deities are presented. Buddhists believe that you should offer pleasing things to the Buddhas. These include light, incense, food and fresh clean water, flowers, sound (bells), and so forth. Any item which is especially pleasing to the worshiper can first go on the shrine as an offering.

In some cases (for example, at Protector Deity shrines) alcohol is also offered (to appease spirits which might otherwise be harmful).

The following examples are shrines in public places:
Dalai Lama Shrine in a McleodGanj Bookshop

Dalai Lama Shrine in McleodGanj Restaurant
Tibetan Buddhist Shrine at a McleodGanj Coffeehouse

Tibetan Buddhist Shrine in a Small McleodGanj Grocery
 Larger Shrines appear in Buddhist temples and classrooms, such as the following:
Tibetan Buddhist Shrine in the McleodGanj Institute of Buddhist Dialectics Classroom
For special occasions, a more elaborate shrine might be set up. The following are Losar (Tibetan Lunar New Year) Shrines:
Losar Shrine at McleodGanj Coffeehouse

Losar Shrine in Tibetan Exile Home

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saga Dawa in Dharamsala

The Tibetan community marked Saga Dawa, the holiest day of the Tibetan calendar, on June 15, 2011 with a variety of religious ceremonies.

Saga Dawa is the entire 4th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar. The full moon of the month, which fell on June 15 this year, is the date singled out to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana (physical death) of  Shakyamuni Buddha (the historical Buddha)

Saga Dawa is a time for doing increased religious practices and daily acts which convey the Buddha's teachings. Amongst these are not killing (many Tibetans, who traditionally consume meat, go vegetarian for the entire month) and the practice of generosity (giving alms to everyone who asks). Buddhists believe that the merit accumulated by doing such practices helps all beings reach enllightenment. The karmic weight of merit is multiplied many times on Saga Dawa.

Most of the region's beggars, lepers, saddhus and Indian monks came to McleodGanj to line the kora (walking meditation path) around His Holiness Dalai Lama's main temple to receive money and food alms. Many Tibetans performed repeated koras both outside and inside the temple.

Inside the temple, pujas (prayer ceremonies) began in the early morning hours and continued through midday.

Tibetan Woman Giving Alms to Indian Buddhist Monks, Making Change from His Alms Bowl

Tibetan Woman Placing Change in Hand of Indian Buddhist Monk
Tibetan Monastic Doing Prostrations at His Holiness Dalai Lama's Main Temple

Bhaley (pronounced Pal-LAY), a Tibetan Bread, to be Distributed to Attendees of Puja

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Stupas, in Tibetan called "chorten", are "mound-like structures containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of a Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship." (paraphrased from the stupa wikipedia entry). Tibetan Buddhists make kora (a type of walking meditation) around stupas and may also prostrate towards them.

Stupa contain relics and/or the cremated remains of a lama or Rinpoche (considered to have been living Buddhas), mantras written on scrolls, "tsa tsa" and other offerings.
There are eight main types of stupas, each based on the Eight Major Events in the life of Buddha. There is also a ninth type, the Kalachakra Stupa, which are designed to protect against negative energies. Only a few of this type exist.

The Great Stupa of Boudhanath in Kathmandu, Nepal is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Tibetan Buddhism.

Stupa Along the Kora at HH Dalai Lama's Temple Complex in McleodGanj, Dharamsala, India.

Stupa on kor at HH Dalai Lama Temple Complex in McleodGanj, Dharamsala, India
Stupas at Dzongsar Shedrs in Bir, HP, India

Stupa at Zilnon Kagyeling Nyingma Stupa in McleodGanj, Dharamsala, India.

Stupa at Tashi Jong Monastery in Himachal Pradesh state, India. Said to have magical powers.
Grass Covered Stupa in Midst of Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal

Note: All images on this page are copyrighted and may not be used in any way without the express written consent of the photographer. If you are interested in purchasing prints or posters, many are available at Support for Tibet in the Buddhist Sites Photography Department