MADISON, Wis. - The Dalai Lama will visit the Madison area this week for several days of talks and a special long-life ceremony.
The Tibetan political and spiritual leader has developed a tight relationship with Madison over the last 30 years. When he arrives on Saturday, it will be his seventh visit to the area.
The visit will conclude with a July 24th ceremony in which Tibetans will wish the 73-year-old a long life in a series of prayers and gift offerings. Organizers say the elaborate Buddhist ritual has never been performed in the West.
The Dalai Lama's close relationship with Madison all goes back to one Buddhist monk named Geshe Sopa.
The Dalai Lama sent Sopa to the U.S. in the early 1960s to spread his vision and Sopa later became a UW-Madison professor.
Sopa started the Deer Park Buddhist Center outside of Madison in 1975. It is the only full-scale Buddhist monastery and teaching center in the Midwest. Now about 500 Tibetans live in the area.