Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown and senior Liberal Party member Hon Peter Slipper MP were among the distinguished guests at a special function hosted by the Tibet Information Office (Canberra) and Tibetan Community of the Australian Capital Territory to mark the 75th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The celebration, held at the National Press Club of Australia on Wednesday, featured a rich and diverse cultural program including Tibetan musicians Tenzin Choegyal and Zompa Namsum, a Sri Lankan dance troupe, a Nepalese dancer, a virtuoso violin performance by Mr. Yang Yang of the Chinese Community and Tibetan dances performed by the Tibetan Community of New South Wales.
The evening began with a traditional aboriginal “welcome to country” performed by Mr. Shane Mortimer, an elder of the Ngambri people, the traditional owners of the Australian Capital Territory.
In his commemorative address, Senator Bob Brown, the guest of honour, described His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a “great and inspiring human being” and “Tibet’s greatest gift to the world”, emphasising the tremendous importance of the Dalai Lama’s teachings today:
“In a world driven by national interests, economic growth and short-term political games, the Dalai Lama and Tibet offer the inspiration that all humanity needs. There is no greater exponent of the alternative, long-term, compassionate and global view than the Dalai Lama. No one person has offered a more cohesive, optimistic yet practical vision for the future than His Holiness.”
Introducing the speakers and performers, local Tibetan Tsewang Thupten explained how Tibetans’ admiration of His Holiness was based “not just on blind faith but on appreciation of his practical wisdom and compassion”.
Mr. Sonam Dagpo, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, and a member of the Task Force on Negotiations with the PRC, gave a moving account of His Holiness’s life, achievements, and tireless work towards a peaceful resolution for the Tibetan people.
Hon Peter Slipper MP, a co-convenor of the Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, was also representing Hon Tony Abbott MP, Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Australia. Representatives of the Taiwanese, Chinese and Buddhist communities were also present.
Australia is today home to over 600 Tibetans and has grown into a major centre of the global Tibetan Diaspora. The 70-strong Tibetan Community of the Australian Capital Territory was joined Tibetans and supporters from as far away from Brisbane and by a large contingent from Sydney.
Australia’s celebrations of His Holiness’s 75th birthday will continue on Saturday with Sydney’s “Festival of Tibet”. The event will feature another elaborate program of cultural performances and speeches, along with the launch of a unique photographic exhibition titled “A Man of Compassion and Wisdom: The Dalai Lama’s Journey”.