Over 5000 people turned out for a memorial service with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Christchurch today for the victims of February earthquake which left 181 people dead. The Tibetan spiritual leader who was on his third visit to the city said that he felt a duty to travel to Christchurch and share in the city’s sadness and show solidarity with the people.
“When you face some tragedy, and lose some people and some damage, as a friend it is my duty to come and share in your sadness,” he said.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama had earlier sent a letter of condolence to Prime Minister John Key after the February 22 quake.
Families of the quake victims were given a special place to sit up the front at the service and they were joined by thousands of others, who were united in speaking of the Dalai Lama’s inspiration and peace.
His Holiness urged the people of Christchurch to look forward with determination and build a new city that will be even happier than the one before it.
The Dalai Lama requested private meetings with people who had lost loved ones and at the start of the prayer meeting spoke briefly to each of the bereaved families. He also spent time with injured people and emergency staff at Christchurch Hospital.
The Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in Christchurch June 7 for a two-day visit before an extended Australian tour.
Rosie Thompson, a resident of Christchurch after meeting His Holiness told reporters that the Dalai Lama had a wonderful way of getting people to understand their sorrow and their problems.
“There’s so much [sorrow] around us, sometimes you think it’s unending, but if people can come along, I hope his talk will give them some real meaning in their lives,” she said.