(TibetanReview.net, Jul08, 2015) – Some 5,000 people jam-packed the courtyard of the main Buddhist temple, the Tsuglakhang, in Dharamsala, India, on Jul 6 to mark the 80th universal-calendar birthday of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama with solemnity and grandeur befitting the occasion. The Dalai Lama himself was away in the United Sates to attend a series of receptions and public talks and conferences over Jul 5-7 to continue his work of spreading the message about global peace and the Tibetan issue. As a matter of fact, the Dalai Lama usually does not attend celebrations of his birthday, which was marked with special fervour in places across much of the free world this year.
Those who addressed the function included the head of the exile Tibetan administration, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay; the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Mr Penpa Tsering. Mr Pushpendra Rajput, Divisional Commissioner of Kangra district, was the guest of honour.
Although the official function was not as grand as the Tibetan-calendar birthday ceremony held earlier on Jun 21, when a joint long-life prayer offering was made to the Dalai Lama with the gathering of the leaders or representatives of the leaders of the different religious traditions of Tibet, the festivity offered gaiety with cultural performances and serving of free lunch throughout much of the day after the official speechmaking.
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Tibetan and Tibet issue-supporting communities in many countries marked the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. In New Delhi, the Bharat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, a group supporting the Tibetan struggle and having nationwide branches, marked the occasion at the Chinmaya Mission Center, New Delhi, on Jul 5, 2015. Mr. Kiren Rijiju, India’s Home Minister of State for Home Affairs, was the chief guest. Those who attended the function included some 100 political leaders from 15 Indian states in the north and east and included former Chief Minister of Uttarkhand State and BJP leader Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, RSS leader Mr Indresh Kumar, ministers from the states of Haryana and Punjab besides many MP.
Celebrations were held in numerous other cities across India. In Ladakh, the Sakya Trizin was the chief guest at a function organized at Jeye Tsal near Shey Village jointly by the Ladakh Buddhist Association and All Ladakh Gonpa Association along with the Chief Representatives of the exile Tibetan administration in Ladakh areas.
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At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Tunne Kelam, an Estonian MEP and a leading dissident when his country was under communist rule, drew the parliament’s attention Jul 6 to the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. Holding up a portrait of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, he said the best birthday present for him would be if the EU’s High Representative Mrs Federica Mogherini and all the EU politicians demand, on all occasions, that China guarantee Tibetans’ genuine autonomy and treat the Tibetan people with full respect for their human and national rights.
The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance issued a statement on the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday. A photo exhibition titled “Ways of Wisdom: Celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday” was inaugurated at the European Parliament Association Building in Strasbourg the same day. The exhibition was earlier held in the European Parliament in Brussels from Jun 30 to Jul 3.
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In Elista, capital of the Kalmyk republic of the Russian Federation, the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday was marked in the Basangov State Drama Theatre on Jul 3. Officials from the republic’s government, including the republic’s vice-prime minister and the culture minister, attended the function. The guests also included representatives of the different national communities living in Kalmykia, as well as members of the inter-religious council.
Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Head Lama of Kalmykia and the Honorary Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Commonwealth of Independent States, addressed the gathering. He hoped for continued cultural exchanges between Kalmykia and Tibetans in the backdrop of artists from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts from Dharamshala, India, taking part in a concert for the occasion.
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In the Baltic Republic of Lithuania, a huge “Culture Night” event was held in the capital Vilnius earlier on Jun 19 to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80tyh birthday, reported huffingtonpost.com Jul 7. Under the theme of “The House of Tibet at the Culture Night” Tibet supporting groups in the country organized the event at Tibet Square which was established by friends of Tibet in the popular district of artists and art called Uzupis in 2010. “The visitors had an opportunity to paint mandalas, to taste traditional salt Tibetan tea and some snacks, to watch documentaries about Tibetan culture, Tibetan political situation, relations between Lithuania and Tibet and visits of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Lithuania,” said the huffingtonpost.com posting by Professor Vytis Vidunas of the Vilnius University.
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Many Tibet support groups elsewhere marked the day as World Tibet Day. In particular, the International Tibet Network (ITN), a global coalition of Tibet-related non-governmental organisations across the free world, released an “Action for 80” video message. Issued by the 20 members of the ITN’s globally-elected Steering Committee – who represent Tibet Groups on six continents – and five staff, it gives a short overview of the current situation in Tibet and then presents a statement calling on world governments to unite and address China with one voice, to bring the current crackdown in Tibet to an end.
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China’s overseas party daily newspaper Global times accused the Dalai Lama on Jul 6 of hyping up his 80th birthday celebrations and politicizing the issue in the United States. “Such celebrations are another farce by the Dalai group to save their declining influence,” said Lian Xiangmin from the China Tibetology Research Center in an op-ed, adding both China’s national power and Tibet’s rapid development had eclipsed the Dalai group’s so-called “middle way” proposal, which he had alleged advocated a “Greater Tibet” with “a high degree of autonomy” within China.
However, Lian has cited the Dalai Lama’s brother Gyalo Thondup as having said in a book that the Tibet issue cannot be resolved without the participation of the Chinese government. He seemed to have forgotten that his government and party leaders do not recognize any Tibet issue when he felt that the Dalai Lama should listen to his brother.