Tawang, Nov. 7 (ANI): In a bid to extend a warm welcome to Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama, residents of Tawang hung decorations and cleaned the streets leading to the Tawang Monastery on Saturday.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is due to begin his week-long visit to the town close to Chinese border in Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday.
Beijing has accused the Nobel peace prize laureate of hurting its ties with New Delhi with the visit to the disputed region.
The Dalai Lama has defended the visit to Arunachal Pradesh as a mere lecture tour, but it has already drawn heavy criticism from Beijing, coming just two months after he visited self-ruled Taiwan, an island China claims as its own.
Despite the tension, the people of Tawang, which has a population of 35,000, were eagerly getting ready to roll out the red carpet for the rare visitor.
"We should not forget that Arunachal Pradesh is very much an integral part of India and his holiness is a religious leader and we have a relationship of a religious leader and his devotees. So we are all very excited and we will receive him in a grand way," said Jampey Tashi, MP, Arunachal Pradesh.
The Government of India has stated that the Dalai Lama is visiting Arunachal Pradesh, an integral part of India, in his capacity as a spiritual leader.
Gurutulku, Abbot of the Tawang Monastery, who has been personally supervising all arrangements for the Dalai Lama's visit, said he was happy that thousands of followers would be able to hear the religious leader's discourses.
"We are very happy that this time China could not disturb us. So we find his holiness's teachings here and we are very happy," he said.
Tenzing Norgu, one of the monks busy painting tree trunks to spruce up the walkway to the monastery, said: "We feel very happy and excited that his holiness the Dalai Lama is coming here. We are getting everything ready for his arrival." (ANI)