By Tenzin Dharpo
The Dalai Lama tastes his birthday cake, Choglamsar, Ladakh, July 6,2017. Phayul photo- Tenzin Dharpo
CHOGLAMSAR, LADAKH, July 6, 2017: The collective sigh and applause from the approximately thirty thousand strong congregation when the old Dalai Lama, who turned 82 remarked that he “felt young”, was a fitting beginning to the celebrations to his birthday here earlier today.
The octogenarian Tibetan leader who reached Ladakh earlier last week kicked off the celebrations cutting a huge cake and expressing gratitude for the traditional offering of the tenshug (long life offering) by the local Tibetans on the occasion.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama greets the congregation at the Shiwai Tsel teaching grounds in Choglamsar, Ladakh on his 82nd birthday celebrations. July 6,2017. Phayul photo- Tenzin Dharpo
“A lot of my friends from diverse religious backgrounds and even non-believers who revere and love me have gathered here today to celebrate my birthday. Many in Tibet, China and other predominantly Buddhist nations are also praying for me on this occasion. To all who love and revere me, I urge that each one of you try and inculcate my teachings and thinking in your lives; putting one’s best foot forward in creating a more compassionate and harmonious world”, the Dalai Lama appealed.
In a live televised event earlier in the week here, the Tibetan leader announced that he is physically fit and has received a clean chit from his recent medical test in the United States.
The colorful proceedings at the Shiwai-Tsel teaching ground was organized by the Ladakh Buddhist Association and the Sonamling Tibetan refugee settlement authority. Notable dignitaries included former Ganden Tripa Sey Rizong Rinpoche, Thiksey Khen Rinpoche, Central Tibetan Administration President Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan Parliament in Exile Speaker Sonam Tenphel, Tibetan MP Dhondup Tashi, LBA President Tsewang Thinles, Ladakh Autonomous Hills Authority President, Lopon Sonam Dawa, CRO Tsetan Wangchuk, among others.
The local Tibetans of the Sonamling Tibetan settlements here in Ladakh and neighboring Changdhang region offered a traditional tenshug offering or the long life offering to the Tibetan leader. The expenses for the tenshug close to 42 lakh INR, sources said, was amassed with the collection of 10 INR from every Tibetans here as well as donations and revenue from a lottery sold by the settlement authority.
The President (Sikyong)Dr. Lobsang Sangay of the CTA (exile Tibetan government) who came here on the invitation of the tenshug organizing committee said that the celebrations should bear in mind the comprehensive achievements of the Tibetan leader which ranges from education, standard of living, religious as well as uplift-ment in all other spheres of the Tibetan community and the world at large.
The head of the Tibetan polity also said, “China should see the Dalai Lama as the solution and not the problem and respect his Middle Way Approach for the political resolution of the Tibetan issue. I also condemn any politically motivated fringe groups as the Dhogyal practitioners and other individuals who seek to malign our leader.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama will have a month long schedule in and around Ladakh visiting Nubra Valley, Turtuk region, Zanskar and then back to Leh in the coming weeks.