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16february201101567Dharamshala: Several hundred people gathered at the main Buddhist temple in India's Hiamalayan town of McLeod Ganj this morning, February 16, to combine their voices in prayer following the tragic death of Tibetan activist and freedom fighter Jigme Norbu on Monday in Florida.

The ceremony was attended by people of all ages, from the young to the elderly, and attracted Indian as well as Tibetan lay people and many monks. Throughout the ceremony cups of tea and Tibetan bread were distributed by monks and volunteers to the chanting crowd, while the traditional white scarves were laid in the temple over the statue of the Buddha. It is thought that more people may have attended if it hadn't been cold and raining heavily.

Also present was Tibetan activist and writer Tenzin Tsundue, who sat at the back of the crowd and read from his prayer-book. When asked about the significance of the ceremony, he answered "This is our appreciation of his work, and we find solidarity with him. With Dharamsala being at the centre of the Tibetan exile community, it's very important for us (to have this here)".

"For us, the legacy of his work, and of his father's work, is very important. It's a strong reminder of his legacy and our struggle for independence," he continued, adding that for those in the free world the reality of freedom is often taken for granted.

Jigme Norbu was the son of the eldest brother of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Thubten Jigme Norbu (the reincarnation of Taktser Rinpoche), also an activist for the Tibetan cause. He was killed in a car accident on Monday 14th February as he set out on the last leg of his 'Walk for Tibet' in Florida, in the United States.

Mr. Tsundue also expressed the sadness felt by many at the fact that Jigme, like his father and so many others, did not get to see the return of a free and independent Tibet within their lifetime: "It's a long struggle, many people have died. The struggle will continue and there will be independence. We will see many deaths but the struggle for Tibetan independence will continue."

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