Dalai Lama backs campaign to save Himalaya Café in Newington from closure

The Dalai Lama praised the café for ‘promoting Tibetan culture in Scotland for many years’

A popular Newington café has found an unlikely potential saviour after being threatened with closure. The Dalai Lama has publicly backed a campaign to save the Himalaya Café.

The well-loved café on South Clerk Street is at risk of closing, as the current landlord wants to retire. The current owner of the café, Reka Gawa, is raising money to buy its premises and save it from being closed.

A spokesperson for the Dalai Lama has said that he knows about the cafe’s work, and hopes that it would be able to continue. He praised Himalaya Café for “promoting Tibetan culture in Scotland for many years”.

Reka Gawa originally grew up in Tibet and met the Dalai Lama at Scottish Parliament in 2004. She was asked if she wanted to meet the spiritual leader, who himself was exiled from Tibet after it was occupied by China in 1951.

When meeting him: “He said he wanted to give me some advice that was very important to promote the Tibetan culture. I promised him I would stay here in Scotland and that it would be my first priority. It was like a dream”

In 2007 she established the Himalaya Café in South Clerk Street. Over the past 14 years she has established a strong community and the café includes a downstairs mediation room, which is free to use.

To help raise money Teka also started a GoFundMe, which has exceeded its £45,000 goal, and is currently at £50,329. She now has the money in order to save the café, but any remaining money donated will now be used in order to pay back the loan.

Sonam Tsering Frasi, representative of the Dalai Lama in northern Europe, Baltic states and Poland, said the spiritual leader knew of the café and Rekha’s work to promote Tibetan culture.

He added: “I appreciate it very much that Reka has been promoting Tibetan culture in Scotland for many years and would like to see her café business uninterrupted, providing the taste of Tibetan food and tranquillity to the Scots in Edinburgh.”

Recommended related articles by this writer

• A woman has been racially abused at a bus stop in Morningside

EUSA trustee says trans women are ‘lying’ and ‘delusional’ in set of ‘transphobic’ tweets

Edinburgh PhD student ‘racially abuses’ Muslim woman on Facebook