Today, July 6th, is His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama’s birthday. Apparently it will be celebrated here; I’m eager to find out how. My curiosity is piqued because though the names of all Sherpa people reflect the day of the week they were born on, they don’t celebrate annual birthdays.
Sitting around the kitchen fire last night after dinner, I asked the older monks when were their birthdays. They couldn’t even tell me the month and date! They only know the year and the day of the week. I’m the same age as most of the older monks and learn that I was born in the Tibetan year of the Dragon, “Duk.”
“No Happy Birthday,” said Kagi, the joker of the group. “No money, no birthday.” I can understand that, but convinced them that even a milk tea party would suffice. In simpler words, I tell them it’s not so much about the material celebration, but the togetherness and appreciation of a person’s life!
“Okay, tato pani party,” agrees Kagi. Now the running joke is that we’ll celebrate birthdays while drinking a mug of hot water. These guys are priceless.
A recent dream resurfaces in my mind and I smile at how fun it would be to take the six older guys – Dorjee, Kagi, Pasang Temba, Colin, Lakpa and Pasang Nuru – to a big city like Chicago, or to the beach in Los Angeles, and watch them explore. If I win the lottery, this will be one of the first things I do! And I’ll throw each of them a birthday party just to watch them blow out the candles and probably overdose on sugar with huge helpings of their first birthday cakes.