02/23/2015, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Tibet, thousands of Buddhists celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday in public

Defying the authorities, about 3 thousand people gathered in the rural districts of Ngaba and Golok to wish long life to the Buddhist leader, who turns 80 this year. The ritual gifts placed under an life-sized cutout of the Tibetan leader on a traditional throne.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Tibetan Buddhist faithful braved the communist authorities and gathered in public to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama. The inhabitants of the rural districts of Ngaba and Golok have exploited the festivities of the Lunar New Year, which began on February 19, to wish long life to their spiritual leader.

The faithful set up a life-sized cutout of the Tibetan leader Ocean of wisdom - the literal meaning of the term "Dalai Lama" - sitting on the traditional throne. Soon after they queued in front of the photograph, bowed and laid ritual gifts. According to the Western calendar the XIV Dalai Lama - Tenzin Gyatso - was born July 6, 1935, but in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism the 80th birthday of a teacher are celebrated with the arrival of the New Lunar Year of their 80th year.

A video obtained by Phayul website shows some Buddhists waving prayer flags in front of the portrait of the Dalai Lama and throw pieces of paper with the Buddhist mantra [see photo].

According to the newspaper, linked to the Tibetan government in exile, at least 3 thousand people attended the ceremony to express "loyalty and reverence" towards the Nobel Peace Laureate, who has lived in exile in India since 1959.

So far the local government has not reacted. Beijing calls the Dalai Lama "a wolf in monks robes" and accuses him and the Tibetan government in exile of wanting to "divide the country."

In fact the Buddhist leader has not sought greater independence for Tibet but only religious and cultural autonomy.  The territory was annexed by Maoist troops in 1949 and according to the central government, there is a "clique loyal to the wolf" that operates even within communist structures towards independence.

In an attempt to "wipe out" this clique, in 2014, the Disciplinary Committee of the Communist Party of Tibet charged 15 senior and 240 other middle and lower level officials. It has also tightened controls and restrictions on the local population. In protest against the current situation, since the end of 2009 at least 136 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in public.

 

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