Dharamshala: The Dalai Lama turned 87 on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishing the Tibetan spiritual leader on phone and his supporters celebrating at a grand event here.
To mark the occasion, the Dalai Lama inaugurated a library and a museum in Dharamshala, where the headquarters of the Tibetan ‘government-in-exile’ and the residence of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate are located.
The main event at the Buddhist temple complex in Mcleodganj was attended by a large number of his followers and several prominent people including Himachal Pradesh minister Rakesh Pathania, local MLA Vishal Nehria, actor-activist Richard Gere, former diplomats and office-bearers of the Tibetan administration.
“Conveyed 87th birthday greetings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama over phone earlier today. We pray for his long life and good health,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
The prime minister had wished him on his birthday last year as well.
Several Union ministers, including Kiren Rijiju and Nitin Gadkari, and lawmakers also greeted the Dalai Lama, one of the most globally respected spiritual leaders who has been living in exile in India after fleeing China in 1959.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur virtually attended the celebration and also wished the Dalai Lama.
Thakur talked about the dedication with which Dalai Lama is working towards humanity and spirituality. He said the spiritual leader has preserved the historical and cultural heritage of the people of Tibet.
He noted that the non-violent efforts of the Dalai Lama to solve the issues of Tibet are an example for the world.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the ‘prime minister’ of the Central Tibetan Administration, lamented that Tibetans living in their homeland are unable to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday due to the “unabated restrictions by the Chinese government”.
Gere, a strong supporter of the Tibetan cause, also addressed the gathering.
“Tibetans, you should be proud since once, not in a lifetime, once in a millennium, maybe in two millennia, such a person, such a human being as the Dalai Lama emerges and he is a Tibetan, the actor said, hailing the spiritual leader.
State forest minister Pathania addressed the gathering as a representative of the Himachal Pradesh chief minister.
A number of dance performances from various communities were organised during the cultural programme. Several awards were also given away in areas like community health care and service on behalf of the CTA.
China has in the past accused the Dalai Lama of indulging in “separatist” activities, however, the Tibetan spiritual leader has insisted that he is not seeking independence but “genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet” under the “Middle-Way approach”.