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28june20102Dharamshala, June 26: Tibetans and Buddhist followers living in Dharamshala celebrated the 26th birthday of His Eminence the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje. Thousands of devotees from Tibetan communities, China, Taiwan and numerous foreign countries chanted hymns praying for peace and harmony while performing with traditional ritual instruments.

Dignitaries including Tibetan government officials, parliament members and heads of NGOs, monasteries, nunneries and institutions conveyed greetings to His Eminence the Gyalwa Karmapa. Earlier in the day, the programme had begun with the lighting of incense sticks by monks.  This was followed by the offering of Mandalas to the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. Led by the monks, Buddhist followers also offered prayers wishing well being and a long life to the 17th Karmapa.

Dignitaries attending the event also witnessed a presentation of Tibetan traditional dance and ritual programmes at Gyuto Tantric Monastery in Dharamshala’s neighboring town, Sidhbari.

The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Lama, who fled from Tibet to India in January 2001 after China’s religious suppression and human rights violations, is now settled in Dharamshala, India and has been granted refugee status by the Government of India.  He is the head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism, which is headquartered at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim.  The 17th Karmapa Lama possesses the highest authority of any Tibetan Lama recognized by both Beijing and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Of the more than 150,000 Tibetans now living in exile in various settlements across India, Nepal and Bhutan, nearly 130,000 also celebrated the Karmapa Rinpoche’s birthday.

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