DHARAMSALA, June 22: The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama said he will remain healthy at least for another 20 years as thousands of Tibetans and supporters gathered at Thekchen Choeling Tsug-lag-khang, the main temple in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala on Jun 21 to celebrate his 80th birthday.
His Holiness made the announcement during a special long life prayer offering at the beginning of the grand celebrations.
“According to doctors’ conclusion on my general health, I will remain healthy for at least another 20 years,” His Holiness said assuring followers of his good health.
The long life prayer offering led by Sakya Dagtri Rinpoche, the head of Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism was jointly initiated by the Central Tibetan Administration, Do-mey Community and Gelug International Foundation for the perfect health and long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Led by Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, senior officials of the Central Tibetan Administration attended the celebrations along with heads and representatives of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon tradition.
A host of Indian and foreign dignitaries attending the event included, Chief Guest Dr Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture, Tourism & Minister of State for Ministry of Civil Aviation, Guest of Honour Mr Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Special Guest Mr Nabam Tuki, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Mrs Viplove Thakur, MP from Himachal Pradesh, Mr Pema Khandu, Tourism Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and Mr Marco Pannella of Transnational Radical Party, Italy.
Showering praise and admiration for His Holiness’s contribution to world peace and humanity in his address, the Chief Guest Dr Mahesh Sharma said, “I come here today on behalf of 125 crore Indians to wish His Holiness a very happy birthday and pray for your long life and good health.”
Wishing His Holiness on his 80th birthday and calling himself a devotee of the Tibetan spiritual leader in his address, Guest of Honour Mr Kiren Rijiju said he would like to extend his prayers for the long life of the Tibetan spiritual leader so that he can continue to bless his devotees with his message of love and compassion.
“The bond shared by Tibet and India is centuries old. The people living on the two opposite sides of Kailash Mansarover have traveled through time together. This time tested relationship is based on culture, mutual trust and affection. Hence, this historic relationship shared by these two peoples can never be set apart,” he said highlighting the centuries old bond shared between the two peoples.
In his address, Special Guest Mr Nabam Tuki, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh who specially came to attend the celebrations said, “I am deeply honoured to be a part of the 80th birthday celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with the devotees from all over the world. I pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is the most revered spiritual leader of our times.”
“I have visited all the Tibetan settlements in the state. I consider it my solemn duty to provide the necessary facilities and solve the problems faced by the Tibetan people residing in Arunachal Pradesh,” Mr Tuki said assuring his government’s continued support for the Tibetans residing in his state.
The Chief Minister also extended His Holiness an invitation to visit and bless the people of Arunachal Pradesh with his presence and presented the Tibetan leader with a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni as a memento and a citation on behalf of the government of Arunachal Pradesh.
A message of greetings for the Tibetan leader from Mr Pawan Chamling, Chief Minister of Sikkim was read by his representative.
Addressing everyone as ‘dear brothers and sisters’ and calling himself a simple monk, His Holiness thanked everyone for taking time out from the busy schedule to come for his 80th birthday celebrations, which he said reflects their deep conviction.
He commended on the ancient Nalanda tradition of Buddhism which contain understanding of reality and involve generating the awakening mind of bodhichitta, which he referred to as the true source of happiness. As everyone seeks happiness and not suffering, His Holiness urged everyone to use their intelligence in a proper way so that lives can be transformed positively.
Urging Tibetans to study and preserve the Tibetan language, His Holiness said, “The understanding of rich ancient Indian wisdom and the Tibetan culture is available in no other language but in the Tibetan language. Therefore, it is imperative to study it to understand the essence of Buddhism and preserve our unique cultural heritage.”
His Holiness also lauded India for its tolerance, mutual harmony and multi-culturalism, which he said is the true beauty of India.
“As I have drawn all my knowledge and practice from the ancient Indian knowledge and lived for more than 50 years eating rice and dal, I call myself a ‘son of India’,” he said.
His Holiness further said that problems of the world cannot be solved by merely reciting prayers.
“Lord Buddha cannot personally come and eradicate suffering and problems of the world. But by taking inspiration from Buddha’s life and teachings, and through mental development and by practicing genuine love and compassion to one another, suffering can be eradicated.
Calling His Holiness a true democrat, an environmentalist, an advocate of equality and justice, a human manifestation of Boddhisatva of compassion for the followers of Budddhism and the life and soul of the Tibetan people, Sikyong Sangay in his address, thanked His Holiness for his leadership and for his commitment to human happiness and the promotion of universal responsibility to foster religious harmony and to safeguard Tibet’s culture and environment.
Sikyong Sangay also extended his appreciation for the valuable presence of the dignitaries who were invited by the Central Tibetan Administration for the grand celebrations.
“My heartfelt appreciation to everyone of you for your valuable presence on this historic moment. All of you being here on this joyous occasion send a powerful and positive message to all Tibetans around the world. Your presence will inspire millions of Tibetans, Buddhist followers and admirers to follow and rededicate themselves to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message of peace, non-violence and justice,” Sikyong Sangay said.
Cultural song and dance performance were also presented by the three traditional provinces of Tibet and the birthday celebrations concluded with His Holiness and guests relishing lunch with the public.