Tibet’s Dalai Lama marks 88th birthday, prays for world peace

Birthday celebration held in India’s Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama has lived in exile for decades after fleeing Chinese-controlled Tibet.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Patron of Children in Crossfire, gestures during a press conference in Londonderry, Northern Ireland September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama [File: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has celebrated his 88th birthday with a wish for peace in the world and for the recognition of a common humanity among people.

Hundreds of supporters and exiled Tibetans gathered at the Dalai Lama’s hillside Indian headquarters in Dharamsala on Thursday, where artists played traditional musical instrument as the octogenarian Tibetan Buddhist leader presided over birthday celebrations in the courtyard of the Tsuglagkhang Temple.

“We are celebrating my 88th birthday but look at me, I look barely 50,” the Dalai Lama said.

In a video message released on social media, the Dalai Lama said that many people around the world had heard of his name “and may appreciate what I have to say”.

“I pray to be able to bring peace to the world by spreading an understanding of the oneness of humanity,” he said.

“Although I am just one human being in the short term, I aspire to contribute to world peace in thought, word and deed. While in the long term I pray that everyone may reach Buddhahood,” he said.

The Dalai Lama has made the Indian town of Dharamsala his headquarters since fleeing from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Beijing has long accused the Tibetan spiritual leader of leading a political group engaged in “anti-China separatist activities with the attempt to split Tibet from China”.

The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he has only advocated for substantial autonomy for his people and the protection of Tibet’s native Buddhist culture.

India officially considers Tibet to be part of China, though it has also long hosted Tibetan exiles, including the Dalai Lama.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was among those who sent their birthday wishes and expressed admiration for the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence.

Source: Al Jazeera, The Associated Press