Leh: Special prayers were held in this mountainous district of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir for the long life of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who turned 83 today.
Large crowds donning traditional dresses began to assemble from morning at the Shewatsel Phodrang complex on the outskirts of Leh for the celebrations.
The Dalai Lama, revered by the Tibetans as a “living god”, attended the prayers and blessed the gathering.
“This time again His Holiness decided to celebrate his birthday with the people of Leh,” a spokesperson for the Dalai Lama’s office told IANS.
Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay also attended the celebrations here.
Officials of the Dalai Lama’s office said the spiritual leader would stay in Shewatsel Phodrang in Leh till the end of July.
“I am very happy to be here once more,” the spiritual leader told the gathering on reaching here on Tuesday.
“I seem to be physically fit and if that continues I hope to spend some time here, avoiding the monsoon on the plains. You people of Ladakh have a special bond with me based on your faith and loving-kindness, of which I am very appreciative,” he added.
During his stay in Leh, the Dalai Lama would participate in religious ceremonies, conduct meditational retreats and deliver teachings.
The Dalai Lama’s sermons on ethics, non-violence, peace and religious harmony have made him one of the 20th century’s most revered spiritual leaders.
Born on July 6, 1935, at Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959.
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign for democracy and freedom in his homeland. Since fleeing to India, he has spent his time in exile pushing for autonomy for Tibet.
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.