Tibetan monks made welcome

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This week a Ballater hotelier opened her inn to five exiled Gyuto monks of Tibet fresh from their Glastonbury festival debut.

Joanna Whysall, of the Deeside Inn was contacted online by Aberdeen woman Jackie Fordyce, who met the Buddhist holy men while attending the legendary English rock festival.

The monks’, exiled from their homeland with the Dalai Lama since the 1959 Chinese invasion, performance followed their recent deal with Universal’s Decca Records, in which all proceeds made from their album Chants: The Spirit of Tibet, will go to the monks’ monastery in Dharamsala, north India.

Ms Fordyce set up a Facebook page asking if anyone in Scotland would put the monks up for a few days as they were keen to visit the country after hearing a great deal about it’s beauty.

The Deeside Inn was happy to oblige, at no cost.

Joanna, the Inn’s general manager said: “In times gone past when travellers visited an area there was a culture of offering them food and board and to feel welcome.”

“Although we are now an industry driven by profit, it was wonderful to have the chance to be reminded of the basic tenants of hospitality by giving these revered spiritual men somewhere to shelter while they visited Scotland.”

Arriving on the minibus via Glenshee, Joanna added the monks were “quite emotional” and surprised by how similar Scotland’s landscape was to the pacifistic homeland the Chinese military invaded more than 50 years ago and have occupied since.

Upon hearing that the Ballater and District pipe band were to play for them, the monks enthusiastically finished their requested haggis, neeps and tatties and made their way to Ballater green for the performance.

The band played, the monks listened and a poignant meeting of two ancient cultures ended with Ian Esson, Drum Major, being presented with a white silk scarf and receiving a blessing.