Dharamshala: - Thousands of people in different parts of Tibet gathered in public to mark His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 80th birth, combining public and private observances with traditional celebrations of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.
The counties of Ngaba and Golok in Amdho region of north-eastern Tibet (Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces) have exploited the festivities of the Tibetan New Year, which began on February 19, to wish long life to their spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Large portraits of the Tibetan spiritual leader placed on traditional thrones, where thousands of people taking part, including monks and layperson, made offerings and recited prayers for his long life.
Images obtained from the areas show Tibetans waving prayer flags in front of the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and throwing Lungta flyers 'wind-horses' to sky.
According to sources, over 3,000 people attended the ceremony to express loyalty and reverence towards the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Ceremonies were held at three monasteries in Ngaba and Golok, including Segon Thupten Chokleg Namgyal Ling, Kirti Monastery, and Nyentse Monastery.
The special event was the first of its kind to be conducted by Tibetans during the past few years in these counties. Similar events in other counties this year include Rebkong, Chengtsa, and Labdrang.
Despite China's ban, Tibetans displayed portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a traditional festival in Minyak County, Kham region of eastern Tibet in celebration of the birthday which coincides with the traditional Losar celebration.
The festival in Karze County was began with hoisting of prayer flags and thousands of wind-horse leaflets to sky and they performed the traditional lha sol ritual - throwing tsampa (roasted barley flour) in the air and burning incense to cerebrate their new year.
The public celebration at this monastery comes amidst a heavy security build-up in these regions, leading fears that those involved may suffer reprisals from the authorities once the New Year holidays are over.
Meanwhile, in many areas in Amdho and Kham regions, observances were held in private homes. They threw prayer leaflets in the air, conducted firework displays, and openly marked the 80th anniversary year of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birth, sources said.
Large numbers of Chinese security forces have been deployed to Tibetan areas in Sichuan's Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) and Serthar (Seda) counties and in Qinghai's Rebgong (Tongren) county following a similar deployment of paramilitary troops to Sichuan's Ngaba (Aba) county, just a few days before Tibetan new year, sources said.
"They are equipped with fire extinguishers and armed with tear gas," sources said, adding, "Residents of the area believe they are there to prevent any incident occurring on Tibetan New Year."
The reason there is to hope for it, since Xi Jinping became President, judging him through his handling of problems and his family's strong connection to Buddhism. "Xi is comparatively more realistic and with more principles," His Holiness said at several times.
However, many say that President Xi's rule will ease the hard-line policy in Tibet to bring a long lasting solution to the issue of Tibet— like his anti-corruption campaign that seems fixated on bringing a positive signal to the world.
But, some Tibetans apparently do not believe that Xi Jinping's exposure to Tibetan Buddhism will make much difference as far as Chinese government's hard-line policy towards Tibet is concerned.