Dalai Lama's 89th birthday celebrated at Dharamshala

Wednesday 10th July 2024 07:58 EDT

Hundreds of mostly exiled Tibetans gathered in India’s hillside town of Dharamshala to celebrate the birthday of the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, who turned 89 on Saturday.

The Dalai Lama has made the hillside town his headquarters since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. Representatives of a Tibetan government-in-exile also reside there.

The main celebrations took place in Tsuglagkhang temple inside the complex where the spiritual leader lives. Tibetan and Buddhist flags adorned poles and railings.

While a colorful three-tiered cake was cut inside the temple, schoolchildren sang: “Happy Birthday His Holiness.”

Artists from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, dressed in traditional attire, played the drums and some marched with bagpipes inside the complex, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd. Then, Indian and Tibetan flags were hoisted, as the band played the two national anthems.

Tibetan and Indian officials sat on a slightly raised platform as photos of the Dalai Lama, some from his childhood, hung on pillars around them.

The Dalai Lama, however, wasn’t present. He is currently in the US where he has undergone a knee replacement, according to his secretary.

Addressing the gathering on Saturday, Penpa Tsering, the president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, announced that several events commemorating the Dalai Lama’s achievements would be held throughout the year.

Last month, a group of US lawmakers met with the Dalai Lama at his Dharamshala residence, sparking anger from China which views the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism as a dangerous separatist.

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