More than seventeen years ago Mr Phuntsog Wangyal, Chairman of Tibet Foundation of London and Mr Dogha Madhatsang, music and dance instructor at Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Institute decided to establish a music, song and dance group which would preserve and revive rich traditions of Tibet in exile environment in India and elsewhere in the world and raise awareness of Tibetan artistic culture. “To forget your own culture saddens the heart” says a popular song. Gangjong Doeghar was created to keep sadness of heart away.
Yaks' and snow lions' antics bring laughter and happiness wherever we go
The beginnings were not easy; back in the 1990s, the idea of promoting Tibetan culture was certainly cherished by individuals, but wider support was still a matter of the future. The group's original four members met for the first time in Kalimpong, which remains the home town of the group until today. They were Mr Dogha, Tshering Wangdi, who is currently in France, Tenzin W. Methoktsang - working as dance and music teacher in Tibetan community in Minnesota, and Jigmed Wangchuk Dharshab who is still a GD member working in St. Augustin School in Kalimpong as language and music teacher.
Founders of Gangjong Doeghar: Mr Dogha la, Tshering Wangdi, Tenzin W. Methoktsang and Jigmed Wangchuk Dharshab (from top left to right and bottom)
Mr Dogha la became the chief music and dance instructor of the Group, a position which he has been holding successfully throughout the years, perfecting skills of more experienced artists and finding new talents.
The newly founded group lacked financial support, there were no instruments or costumes, and even finding a place to rehearse dances and play music was a problem. Hard to believe it now, but in these early days it was by no means easy to attract new performers. However, all these difficulties were overcame and finally nine Ganjong Doeghar artists went to England to give a performance organised in London by Mr Phuntsok Wangyal. They were to present their skill and richness of Tibetan Culture in front of audience made up mostly of foreigners. This experience gave them a powerful boost for further improvement and involvement. Since then, an increasing number of young people has been joining GD and many of them toured Europe (1995,1996,1997, 2003 and 2004), Australia, Russia (2004 and 2005), Nepal (1999 and 2005), Bhutan ( 2005 and 2006) and major cities of India (New Delhi, Calcutta, Gangtok, Darjeeling and local community places). For more information about performances of the group click here.
On a tour, Award at Kala-Goda Art Festival in Mumbai, Letter of thanks for participation in Tibet Festival in Moscow, Russia (left to right)
Thanks to close ties with Kalimpong Tibetan School managed by Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Institute, which places great emphasis on the artistic education of its students from the early age and on honing the skills of talented children, Gangjong Doeghar has always has a broad group of junior artists who are intent on learning from the instructors and their older colleagues, while contributing their wonderful youthful energy and joy. As most of the artists are either school or college goers, they usually gather on Saturdays and Sundays to practice and improve their skills. With a few exceptions, all the members have had no formal training in dance before joining the group, but their performances clearly demonstrate passion, commitment and willingness to learn. Some of them remain with the group for many years, others pursue individual artistic careers. Our well-known alumni include Lobsang Chonzor, Tsering Wangdi - an artist based in France, Jamyang Dolma - currently residing in Australia (active in GD in the years 1995-7), Pema Dolma - currently in England (active in GD between 1995-8) and many others.
Lobsang Chonzor, Jamyang Dolma with GD in Europe, Pema Dolma with Tsering Passang and Samdup Tsering, Tsering Wangdi (left to right and bottom)
Most of the costumes and instruments are made locally under the guidance and supervision of Mr Dogha la and some are created by him personally; a few were purchased from Tibetan Institute Of Performing Arts (TIPA) based in Dharamsala and other similar institutions.
Sometimes you have to work like this... ... to look like this!
The group rehearses and holds classes and workshops in Kalimpong, West Bengal. For schedule, click here.