With an aim to preserve the rich culture and language of Ladakh by generating interest amongst the students in Bhoti (Tibetan) language, Ladakh Buddhist Association in collaboration with Drepung Loseling Pethub Khangtsen Education Society and
Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation (HCHF) organised “Annual Inter School Essay Writing Competition of Bhoti Language” on 4th May 2013 at Lamdon Model Senior Secondary School in Leh. Sheik Javed was the chief guest on the occasion. Around 86 students from 17 different schools from all over Leh participated in it. The students were grouped into two categories (class 5 to 7 and class 8 to 10). The schools were asked to send three contestants in each category. The question papers carry 100 marks out of which 30 marks is allotted for essay writing. Tibetan grammar and spelling check are also part of the language test. The contestant has to answer 5 questions out of 8 within two and half hours. The answer papers will be checked later by language experts from other schools and institutions on a roundtable and the results will be announced on Buddha Purnima on 25th May at Leh Pologround.
A lot of debate and discussion happened in the past among the experts on how to preserve the language and everybody opined that the development should take place at schools. Various means and methods were adopted by different organisations and schools to achieve preservation and development in Bhoti language and one of them is the ‘Inter School Essay Writing Competition’. The event was launched last year and it is getting better and more popular with participation from many schools in and around Leh town. Although the invitation was sent to 21 schools, but 17 schools had agreed to participate in the competition. Geshe Konchok Angdus, President of HCHF said, “It is crucial to preserve the language because it defines our culture and gives us an identity. China is trying to wipe out the Tibetan race by destroying its language. In India we have so many rights and freedom to practice our own religion and preserve our language and culture. However, we tend to neglect it by giving it lesser importance. The modern languages like English, Hindi and Urdu are gaining more interest and widespread recognition. Therefore, in order to preserve the Bhoti language, the younger generation especially the students should play a major role”. Eshay Tundup, Principal of Lamdon Model Senior Secondary told the students about the importance of participating in the event, win or lose, it doesn’t matter. What matters the most is the participation.
He also said that many people fail to realize the significance of Bhoti language, how it helps in getting employment in certain fields which require skills and knowledge in local language. Sheik Javed told of his love for his own culture and language. He learned Bhoti language by himself without referring to a teacher. He always wears traditional dress wherever he lives, even in the hot climates ofJammu. He said, “There was two important things in our life i.e., religion and language. Whatever religion one professes one shouldn’t neglect his/her own language. Therefore, we should learn the language to preserve the religion and culture”. He went to Skardu in Baltistan in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir a few years back and saw that the people over there have forgotten how to write in Bhoti language. They speak Ladakhi but they don’t know how to write. Many ancient languages and dialects are disappearing from the face of this earth because of strong influence from new and modern languages.