Tattoos of Tibetan Refugees: Tashi O.


Tashi came to India 20 years ago to receive an education.

On his forearm, he has the Tibetan mantra ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’. When asked what reaction people have when they see it, he says it is a positive one, “When I walk the Kora, if someone reads it, then they are in fact reciting the mantra. This brings good Karma.”

His other arm bears the Vajra symbol, a sign of protection.

Tashi’s tattoos were done professionally, both he and his brother have them, he admits after having his first one, he wanted another. His parents don’t know he has these – they subscribe to the ‘old views’ that the soul will not have a place to go after he dies; but he himself does not believe in this, “Whatever the consequences are, then I have to accept them.”

Tashi feels he has received a better understanding of Buddhism in India than he would have been able to in Tibet. “In Tibet there are restrictions on religious practice – everyone knows this.”

Tashi shares the same sentiment of all Tibetans interviewed for this series, he would not have left Tibet had it not been occupied. While he hopes to return, his parents have discouraged him saying because he was raised in India, learning Tibetan and English here, he would have trouble communication there, and would have to start over, learning Chinese, to be able to make his way there.

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