Tibetans celebrate Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday, Nepal breaks it up in Kathmandu

Nepalese police hold back a Tibetan exile from celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday outside Katmandu on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy: Binod Joshi/AP)
Nepalese police hold back a Tibetan exile from celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday outside Katmandu on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy: Binod Joshi/AP)

(TibetanReview.net, Jul08, 2016) – While Tibetans in their Chinese ruled homeland could observe the 81st birthday Jul 6 of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, only furtively and in their hearts, those in exile marked the otherwise grand historical event with official solemnity and public gaiety; however, the government of Nepal had a serious problem with the Tibetans living in the country doing so and sent in the police to break it all up.

The official exile Tibetan administration’s function to mark the occasion was held, as usual, on the courtyard of the Tsuglakhang, the main Buddhist temple in Dharamshala, India. It was officiated by the Home Kalon (or Minister) Mr Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang. Apart from him and the Deputy Speaker of the exile Tibetan parliament Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, the gathering was addressed by Mr Ajai Singh Mankotia, President of Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association. He urged everyone to work towards making Dharamshala a truly spiritual destination which reflects the blessings and teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Two books were launched during the function: A Hindi version of the comic book ‘Dalai Lama – Soldier of Peace’ by veteran Indian photojournalist and decades-long Tibet observer Mr Vijay Kranti and a book in Chinese on the life of former Tibetan political prisoner Lobsang Tenzin.

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His Holiness's 81st Birthday - Mundgod, Karnataka, India - July 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy: OOHDL)
His Holiness’s 81st Birthday – Mundgod, Karnataka, India – July 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy: OOHDL)

A more weighty celebration of the event was held at the Tibetan settlement in Mundgod Town, Karnataka state, in the presence of the Dalai Lama himself, with the attendance of the Sikyong, the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration at Dharamshala Dr Lobsang Sangay, and the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Khenpo Sonam Tenphel.

The Dalai Lama was in the settlement to give religious teachings and for the concluding event of a grand year-long celebrations marking his 80th birthday. It was held at the Drepung Lachi, the grand Council of the Drepung Monastery. The Dalai Lama was also given a long-life prayer offering by the Gelug organising committee, local Tibetans, monks and nuns of the Mundgod Doeguling Tibetan settlement.

During his week-long stay in the Doeguling Settlement beginning Jul1, the Dalai Lama also bestowed full ordination upon 81 monks each day for four days.

Although there has been no report on his birthday celebrations held at Mundgod as we go to the press, a picture posted on the DalaiLama.com website showed the Tibetan spiritual leader cutting cake in the presence of leaders of different religious faiths.

Meanwhile India’s IANSnews agency Jul 5 cited the Dalai Lama as describing himself as 81 years old and still young, attributing his “youthfulness” apparently to his peace of mind.

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In Tibet’s capital Lhasa, a Tibetan, when asked by a visiting Indian journalist how he was going to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday, replied “In my heart,” reported hindustantimes.com Jul 6. The journalist has noticed that the birthday was not being celebrated with any kind of open fervor, but only furtively across the Tibet Autonomous Region, especially in the capital Lhasa.

The journalist has said nearly all Tibetans he spoke to in Lhasa on Jul 6 remained silent or changed the conversation when it came to the birthday. “One put a finger to his lips. Others said no one was celebrating it – at least not openly,” the report said.

At the official level, Li Xiaojun, director at the State Council, China’s cabinet, has said, “His birthday is not important to the Chinese. It is not an important date. Do you see any abnormal security in the city? The locals are not bothered.”

The journalist has said he was in Lhasa at the invitation of the State Council as a part of a group of international experts and a handful of independent journalists to cover a forum on Tibet’s economic development being held in the city. However, the report said that during tours of Potala Palace and Sera Monastery, government officials kept the journalists under watch, apparently to prevent them interacting with locals.

China insists that foreign media and others should not comment on the situation in Tibet without visiting and seeing things there with their own eyes, but does not allow any such visit except on rare occasions in strictly controlled groups.

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In Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, police dispersed a crowd of several thousand Tibetans who had gathered to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday. They also briefly took into custody the Tibetan refugee representative Mr Kalsang Dondrub and 23 other Tibetans after swarming into the venue, the Songtsen High School, reported RFA.org Jul 6.

The police were also reported to have pulled down large portraits of the Dalai Lama that had been placed in positions of honor on a stage in the school’s courtyard, scattering banners, flowers, and other offerings that had been arranged at the site.

The police were reported to have acted thus despite having granted permission for the celebrations only the day before apparently under pressure from China.


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