Mongol Mania

The Dalai Lama seemed quite pleased at the size of the Mongolian audience that greeted him at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts this past Saturday morning, reports Zula Tserendejid, head of the Mongolian Community Association of Colorado. And the Mongolians were quite pleased to see His Holiness as well. After all, the Dalai Lama was in high demand this weekend as PeaceJam rocked and rolled all over the city, and when word got around the Mongolian community that the Dalai Lama had set aside a block of time to speak directly with them, they showed up by the hundreds. Zula presented the Dalai Lama with a hadag — scarf — as well as a cup of milk, the traditional Mongolian way of greeting a guest.

"I also gave him a little pamphlet about the Mongolian Community Association of Colorado," Zula says. "And he read the name of our group out loud when I handed it to him. He seemed happy to see that such a thing exists."

Then His Holiness addressed the assembled audience.

"Basically he was saying how Tibetans and Mongolians are very similar in nature," Zula reports. "Our history, the way we look, the kind of Buddhism that we both practice, it's all the same. He said that his country, Tibet, is a dying nation, and it's our responsibility as Mongolians to pass this on.

"He also talked about how this year is the 800th anniversary of Chinggis [aka Genghis] Khan," Zula continues. "He talked about how back when Chinggis Khan ruled, he did so with horses, bows and arrows and swords. He said these days Mongolians should prepare ourselves with modern education and technology as our weapons, but keep the same spirit of courage as in the time of Chinggis Khan."

It was a proud moment for the largest Mongolian population in the United States and yet another symbol of their ongoing strength and cohesion.

This Friday at Rise nightclub, members of the Denver Mongolian community will have another chance to show off their unity, albeit in a polar opposite setting, when MCAC hosts its first-ever Mongolian Disco Night, in an attempt to raise funds for a statue to adorn the City of Ulaanbaatar park, opening in Lowry next summer. Mongolian music will be played until 10 p.m., after which the DJ will turn things back over to the more typical Friday night fare.

"We're hoping to have our second one near Halloween," Zula comments.

Mongols, get your freak on. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts