Leh, July 6: Thousands of Tibetans on Thursday morning joined in the 82nd birthday celebrations of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama here. Large crowds donning traditional dresses began to assemble since morning at the Shiwatsel Phodrang complex on the outskirts of Leh for the birthday celebrations.
"Special prayer sessions were held for the long life of His Holiness," a Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) spokesperson told IANS.
This year's celebrations come in the backdrop of Indo-China standoff near the border in Sikkim. China has accused India of "betraying" a British-era territorial understanding of their border in Sikkim. Dalai Lama who fled Tibet's capital Lhasa in 1959 after the Chinese intrusion, turned 82 today. 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 here.
Officials of the Dalai Lama's office said the spiritual leader would stay in Shiwatsel Phodrang 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 in Leh.
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 recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign for democracy and freedom in his homeland. Since fleeing to India, he has spent his time in exile pushing for autonomy for Tibet. India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.