On Sunday 15 October, in the courtyard of Day TCV School in McLeod Ganj, an event was held which is sure to become a regular feature in Dharamsala's calendar. The Rogpa Festival. Founded in 2005 by Rogpa Charitable Trust, the Rogpa Baby Care Centre was opened to support Tibetan families and empower working parents in their daily lives. Now providing free day care for 32 Tibetan children, the centre the proved invaluable to many families in the McLeod Ganj area. Indeed, this inaugural festival was organized not merely to raise funds and awareness but also to celebrate the community spirit which characterizes the Rogpa ethos.

Starting with a bang, the festival was not ten minutes old before racking up its first success of the day. The opening of the clothes stalls sent the ladies, both young and old, into a fever pitch of excitement. The frenzied scrambling for bargain finery lending further weight to the old adage 'women love to shop'! Meanwhile, on the other side of the school courtyard, the men were flexing their muscles (and egos) engaged in the altogother more important business of knocking down pyramids of toilet rolls with little balls, or with whatever else was at hand. The game had added significance because the entire pyramid was comprised with the slogan. 'Just say no to 2008 Beijing Olympics', Those passers-by looking on from the vantage point of Temple Road were clearly transfixed by the prowess on display.

After a week of rain leading up to the festival, we were blessed with hot sun all day and attracted Tibetans from all over town, as well as dozens of people from the international community! At this year's Annual Rogpa Festival, as well as the usual games, music, and community fun, we also focused on promoting environmental education. The Tibetan people have a historically strong bond with nature, but due to the changes in modrn times, and in the lives of Tibetans, care for the environment has decreased. Through craft projects, recycling and clothes swapping, and a documentary film show, we attempted to raise awareness and increase community educatino about the importance of recycling, reusing, and reducing, in order to preserve our beautiful environment.

we sold flowers planted in used plastic water bottles, to show how simply we can re-use waste materials and nurture the environment at the same time! An ingenious water bottle greenhouse was constructed by volunteers to demonstrate a low-cost way of increasing crop production, a scheme that is well established in the Andes Mountains in South America. They share the same problem of excess plastic bottles in Argentina and Chile and because of the strong sun at high altitudes; greenhouses in both the Andes and Himalayas could really prove beneficial for farmers. Another project involved showing children how to bind recycled paper books and make jewellery using recycled materials.

Under a perfect, blue Himalayan sky Rogpa staged its biannual fund raising festival at the TCV Day School. As the photographs clearly show the festival day can be best summed up by the literally hundreds of happy smiles encountered during the day. If the generation of happiness has any power to produce a better, more humane world then the ROGPA festival has certainly added more than a grain of goodness to the general world karmic state!

Rogpa primary aim was to promote integration and cooperation, particularly between the community's young and more elderly population in McLeod Ganj. All of the Rogpa parents were involved with the festival preparations and helped on the day. No Festival can forget the importance of keeping the crowd well fed and this one is no exception. Volunteers Sun-Uk Kim and Cheon Mylong tell me that their day has started early and that they wanted to be volunteers because they like young children and that it helps build good relationships between all ages. From a personal tasting of their excellent Korean pancakes the writer can tell you that both have a bright future in the catering industry should they choose that path!

Rogpa held its first ever basketball tournament between 24 May and 9 June. Normally the Tibetan Youth Congress organizes a similar event, but this year the TYC held a marathon instead. To the great relief of the Dharamsala youth, Rogpa stepped in to fill this sporting void! A first time project for Rogpa's Janchup Dorjee, he saw it as an opportunity to do something for young people in the community, especially as most of Rogpa's events focus on children, families and the elderly. All of the games were played at the Gangkyi government ground on Jogiwara Road, except the final which was played at Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts (TIPA). The event featured 10 local teams, divided into two groups.

Despite heavy rains and first time inexperience, the tournament was a resounding triumph! The aim of the event was to give young people the chance to spend their time in a healthy, active way and to provide local entertainment. A jubilant atmosphere was created during this fortnight, equivalent to World Cup fever! Unfortunately for the newly formed Rogpa team. they did not enjoy much first time success. It was very kind of Rogpa to deliberately lose all four of their games for the benefit of all other sentient basketball players! Emotions ran high during the final match as both finalists 'Seeds' and 'Sherab Gyaltsen Lhobring' wanted to win so badly. In future, compulsory anger therapy should be a pre requisite for all competing players! The eventual winner was 'Sherab Gyaltsen Lhobring', a transit school which cares for new Tibetan arrivals, who have yet to be placed in permanent centers of education. Special thanks to all players and volunteers. Gen Dawa Tsering la (owner of Tibet Tours and Travles). and the wonderful crowds who support the whole event. We are extremely grateful to TIPA and Gangkyi grounds, for hosting the tournament without cost to Rogpa. After this overwhelming experience. Rogpa has gained more confidence and will endeavor to host a different sporting event every year form now on!

This year the festival will be held in Nevember (excact date to be confirmed).