By Lobsang Wangyal
ON THE WEB, 6 July 2019
With prayers and cultural performances, exile Tibetans celebrated the 84th birthday of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The official function was held at Tsuglakhang Temple in McLeod Ganj, where thousands of Tibetans and their supporters gathered to mark the event. Member of Indian Parliament Kishan Kapoor was the chief guest, and all the top officials of the Central Tibetan Administration attended the function.
President of the Administration Lobsang Sangay attributed to the leadership of the Dalai Lama the strong democratic base the Tibetans have created in exile, and the Tibetan identity retained over the last 60 years.
That the Tibetan cause found its voice and support throughout the world, and the ‘Middle-way Approach’ in resolving the Tibetan issue through dialogue continues to be widely supported by many countries, Sangay said were achieved only through the tireless endeavours surmounting all the hardships under his wise and able leadership.
Born on 6 July 1935 in a small village called Taktser in Tibet’s northeastern province of Amdo, Lhamo Dhondup, later named Tenzin Gyatso, was recognised as the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of two.
He was then brought to the capital Lhasa when he was four, and was officially enthroned at the age of five. He received the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy, when he was 24.
In 1950, when he was 16, at the behest of the Tibetan government due to the deteriorating situation with China, he had to take charge as the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet. Chinese troops were then entering from the eastern border of Tibet, to eventually capture Lhasa in 1959, the year the Dalai Lama fled to India where he took refuge.
Since 1974 he has been rallying for a mutually-acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue with China through the ‘Middle-Way’ for autonomy within China, rather than independence. Beijing has so far refused to accept that, with talks reaching a deadlock even though nine rounds of meetings between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Chinese leaders have taken place from 2002 to 2010.
In his public message on his birthday the Dalai Lama said,
So here my friends, if you truly love me, then keep in your mind my three commitments. Wherever you live, try to create a compassionate atmosphere, compassionate society, then religious harmony. Then tell more people that Tibetan knowledge, which comes from Nalanda, is quite useful. So whether a believer or a non-believer, it’s worthwhile that this Tibetan knowledge is kept as a part of an academic subject. So if you practice, if you pay more attention, that’s the best gift for my birthday.
The Dalai Lama has expressed the feeling in recent years that he will live for more than 100 years. In an event on Friday, he exuded great health and spirits, when he was requested to live long in a ceremony carried out by the former staff members of the CTA that he headed till 2011.
In Nepal, Tibetans have been banned from celebrating his birthday. The Nepal government stopped the official function in the capital Kathmandu in order not to offend its giant neighbour China. Nepal recognises Tibet as a part of China, as it is committed to the “One-China policy”.
Diplomats from US, UK, Germany, Japan, and a few other countries were to attend the programme in Kathmandu at an official Tibetan function organised at Lowa Monastery by the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office.
Nepal bans all Tibetan political and cultural activities, such as the Dalai Lama birthday, the 10th March Tibetan uprising anniversary, and Tibetan elections.