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3 july 2012 001Dharamshala: The mother of the Tenth Panchen Lama, Choekyi Gyaltsen Rinpoche, passed away at the age of ninety-seven on the 29th of June in the gateway city of Siling, in the eastern Tibetan region of Amdo. The news has deeply saddened many within the Tibetan community-both in exile and in Tibet itself.

Mayum Sonam Dolma was born in Tibet in 1915 and due to a confluence of historical and personal events that washed over Tibet in her lifetime, she experienced many tumultuous episodes: the Chinese invasions, modernity tentatively beginning in her homeland, her son becoming the Tenth Panchen Lama and all that followed in the intervening years from those events.

Mayum Sonam Dolma, amongst many other roles and duties, was at one time the Vice-President of the Tibetan Autonomous Region's congress.

In addition, she continued with social work around Vidu village and nearby areas-Running monasteries and schools after the death of her son- the 10th Panchen Lama and her husband Gur Gun Tsetan.

Mayum Sonam Dolma died at approximately at 8.52 a.m. it is not known at this stage if she suffered from any illness or condition which may have caused her death. She had been hospitalised since January of this year in Siling.

Prayer services were conducted after her death in many local monasteries and villages (Dobi, Tse Chang, Karang, and Kangtsa) as a tribute to her life and work, in the Amdo region.

She was a much respected figure within Tibet itself and amongst the Tibetan community in exile in India and indeed worldwide. Many prominent and ordinary Tibetans have been posting condolences online since the news of her death has been become widely known.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also presided over a prayer service today, 3rd of July, organised by the Tibetan government in exile here in Dharamshala. The service was held in the main temple and was also attended by hundreds of local Tibetan people, members of parliament and many visitors from other countries too.

The service was jointly organised by the central and regional committees of Domey province as a mark of respect for her passing.

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