His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday was celebrated today with much official fanfare and public participation in the exile seat of Dharamshala.
People poured out early morning at Lhagyal-ri for Sangsol (incense burning ceremony) for the long-life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The official function attended by a battery of dignitaries and hundreds of Tibetans and local friends and international supporters began at the courtyard of Tsugla-khang at 9 am with the hoisting of the Tibetan national flag and the proud rendition of the Tibetan national anthem.
Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche in the statement of the Kashag (Cabinet) beseeched His Holiness, on behalf of all Tibetans, to ‘remain with us to dispel the suffering of all human beings and especially to guide the Tibetans as long as possible’.
The Kashag lauded the far reaching steps that His Holiness the Dalai Lama took to fully democratise the Tibetan establishment hailing His Holiness’ recent decision to devolve all his political powers to the elected Tibetan leadership as a ‘historic step’.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s democratisation of the Tibetan polity has given the Tibetans the opportunity to make the issue of Tibet more global and strengthened the legitimacy of the exile administration”, Kalon Tripa said.
As part of the official celebrations, Kalon Tripa released a number of books including a biography of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The special 25-year service awards to officials of the Central Tibetan Administration were also conferred by the out-going Cabinet chief.
A joyous routine of traditional song and dance performances followed the official speeches with little school children and professional artists entertaining the crowd.
The festivities in Dharamshala continued long after the official function was over. Tibet I Care, a non-profit initiative organised a unique sports event celebrating traditional Tibetan games and sports. Tibetans from all walks of life actively participated in the archery competition, tug-o-war matches and arm wrestling contests.
Later in the evening, the newly formed Tibet Theatre, an amateur contemporary theatre group held its premiere show, a comical extravaganza with strong social message aimed at highlighting the myriad social challenges Tibetan refugees face.
As part of the celebrations, the Women’s Environment and Development Desk (WEDD) of Tibetan Women’s Association on the eve of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s birthday in a release announced the launch of its first phase of sustainable development projects inside Tibet to benefit Tibetan Women, particularly the displaced nomadic women.
WEDD in the release said that it was sponsoring 14 Female Yak (Dri in Tibetan) through Tibet Foundation’s Yak for Life programme for 14 displaced nomadic families in the highlands of earth-quake wrecked region of Kyegudo, Kham, in eastern Tibet.
“The forced eviction of nomads from Tibet’s pasturelands has rendered the nomads without a proper source of income. Moreover, the lives of Tibetan women are adversely impacted. This sustainable development project will engage the women in sustainability that will ensure a constant source of income for them and their families”, WEDD said.
Celebrations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday have also been reported from the US, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Poland and UK.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is currently in Washington D.C. to confer the Kalachakra initiations.