China fumes, Tibetans celebrate Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday

The Dalai Lama enjoying a piece of cake with local religious leaders during celebrations honouring his 81st birthday at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India, on 6 July 2016.

The Dalai Lama enjoying a piece of cake with local religious leaders during celebrations honouring his 81st birthday at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka, India, on 6 July 2016. OHHDL/Tenzin Choejor

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 6 July 2016

Thousands of Tibetans and their supporters gathered at Tsuglagkhang temple in McLeod Ganj to celebrate Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday.

Officials of the Central Tibetan Administration, local Indian leaders, thousands of exile Tibetans, including students, and Tibet supporters watched colourful dance and music as they ate cupcakes and sweets distributed by various groups.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner celebrated his birthday at Drepung Loseling in Mundgod in South India, with religious leaders of different faiths, thousands of exile Tibetans, and local Indians.

At the official function in McLeod Ganj, officiating Sikyong Home Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration, Sonam Topgyal, said that the Tibetan cabinet will work to ensure that dialogue with China takes place soon.

“We remain firmly committed to the Middle-Way Policy, and will take concrete measures to ensure that dialogue with China takes place in the near future,” said Topgyal.

Born on 6 July 1935 at Taktser hamlet in Tibet’s northeastern region of Amdo, the Dalai Lama was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso. He was formally recognised as the 14th Dalai Lama when he was four, and was accorded full temporal (political) powers at the early age of 15, after China’s invasion of Tibet.

He fled in to exile in India in 1959 when he was 24, and since then he has lived in McLeod Ganj in northern India, where he established the Central Tibetan Administration, leading it as the head of state in exile until he relinquished his political powers to an elected leader in 2011.

Tibetans in the Indian capital of Delhi celebrated the 81st birthday of the Dalai Lama at the Tibetan camp Majnu Ka Tilla. India’s Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, attended the function there.

Police in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu thwarted a Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday celebration programme by the local Tibetans.

Local media reported that at least 5,000 Tibetans made their way to the Songtsen Bhrikuti School in Kathmandu for the event, but over 100 police officers prevented them from entering the school premises.

At least 28 Tibetans were arrested on charges of “breaching the public peace” while preparing for the ceremony.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a press conference in Beijing on the day of the Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday that the Dalai Lama should “give up” attempts to divide the country and should come back on the “right track”.

“Dalai Lama has been engaging in separatist activities,” PTI news agency has quoted Hong Lei as saying, reacting to Dalai Lama’s comments advocating the Middle-Way Policy of achieving autonomy in Tibet as a solution to the Tibetan issue.

“We hope that the Dalai Lama can give up his attempt to divide China and it is never too late for him to come back to the right track,” Hong said.


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