Thousands of Tibetans on Thursday morning joined in the 82nd birthday celebrations of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama here. On this occasion, the Tibetan cabinet urged US President Donald Trump to initiate steps to restart dialogue on Tibet's future. Large crowds donning traditional dresses began to assemble since morning at the Shiwatsel Phodrang complex on the city's outskirts for the birthday celebrations.
"Special prayer sessions were held for the long life of His Holiness," a Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) spokesperson said.
The Dalai Lama, revered by the Tibetans as a "living god", attended the prayers and blessed the gathering. Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay also attended the celebrations, while his cabinet urged Trump to initiate steps for restarting the dialogue process on the future of Tibet.
"We also urge President Trump to support the middle-way approach and dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the representatives of the Chinese government," the Cabinet said in a statement.
Expressing gratitude to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for his support for dialogue, it said, "We also thank Terry Branstad, the US Ambassador to China, for calling on China to provide meaningful autonomy for Tibetans."
The Cabinet reiterated its commitment to "middle-way" approach as the mutually beneficial solution to resolving the long-standing issue of Tibet.
Meanwhile, officials of the Dalai Lama's office said the spiritual leader would stay in Shiwatsel Phodrang in Leh till July 30. During his visit, he would participate in religious ceremonies, conduct meditational retreat and deliver teachings at Diskit Monastery in the Nubra Valley, Padum in Zanskar area and the Shiwatsel teaching ground here.
The Dalai Lama's sermons on ethics, non-violence, peace and religious harmony have made him one of the 20th century's most revered spiritual leaders. Born on July 6, 1935, at Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959 and has been based in India since then.
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign for democracy and freedom in his homeland. However, the Chinese view him as a hostile element bent on splitting Tibet from China. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans. The Tibetan government-in-exile is not recognised by any country.