If you have been noticing strands of what look like primary colored kerchiefs strung up on on porches and eaves of homes and small businesses all over New Orleans in recent weeks, you are witnessing the Crescent City’s preparation for the welcoming of his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama for a three-day intensive conference and series of cultural events this weekend (May 16 – 18) centered around compassion, connectivity and the core essence of one of the world’s foremost leaders in peace and civil disobedience. No, the porch decorations popping up all over town are not signifying members of a new Mardi Gras krewe, the brightly colored kerchief stands are actually Tibetan prayer flags.
Perhaps this visit could not be more well-timed, given dust still settling from last Sunday’s Mother’s Day second line shooting. His Holiness will be talking to attendees in New Orleans about resilience and strength that comes from practicing compassion and encouraging connection in every moment of daily life.
One of the central components of the Tibetan exile’s practice is the use of music as a tool for expression, communication and meditative prayer. As music is also a central element of New Orleans culture, many local musicians will be hosting various music events over the course of the Dalai Lama’s three-day visit, many with formally trained Tibetan artists associated with the Dalai Lama himself.
The visit will include a three-day conference and two public lectures, one on Saturday at the University of New Orleans’ Lakefront Arena which is already sold out, and a second added to accommodate the demand for seats in the Dalai Lama’s presence, to take place on Friday at the New Orleans Convention Center main auditorium, both at 1:00 p.m. Yet another cultural parallel between the eastern philosopher and peace leader’s practices and that of New Orleans’ own heritage is that of a public procession, or peaceful parade. Several monks will join him in leading a procession from the site where they will create a traditional sand mandela on Friday at 5 p.m. from the Convention Center to the Mississippi River, where the colored sands will be dispersed into the water in prayer for New Orleans and its people. This procession will be free and open to the public.
Tickets to the Saturday lecture are now sold out, but tickets to attend the Dalai Lama’s Friday lecture ($25 – $55) or the full three-day conference ($150 – $450) are still available here. *Note: strict security measures will be in effect for all public Dalai Lama events, see website for more information: www.dalailamanola.com.
Several local artists, businesses and community centers are hosting a series of free or affordable events surrounding the Dalai Lama’s visit over the course of the weekend:
- Friday, May 17 – 1:00pm: Free livestream screening of the Dalai Lama’s lecture at Ashe Cultural Arts Center
- Friday, May 17 – 7:00pm: Compassion in your Rockasana Yoga Class at Swan River Yoga
- Saturday, May 18 – 1:00pm: Free livestream screening of the Dalai Lama’s lecture at Zeitgeist Arts Center
- Saturday, May 18 – 6:00pm: Bodhi Tree Art Show at 1201 Manzant Street Gallery
- Saturday, May 18 – 6:00pm: “Shell Shocked: Growing Up in the Murder Capital of America” Film Screening at APEX Community Center
- Sunday, May 19 – 11:00am: Medicine Buddha Healing Puja Rite Ceremony with Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery at Chua Bo de Buddhist Temple
- Daily, On-going: Dalai Lama Film Series at Zeitgeist Arts Center