Tibetan students dance in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his 88th birthday celebration in Dharamshala, July 6, 2023. Photo: TPI/Yangchen Dolma

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Dharamshala, India ­– Thousands of people from Dharamshala and around the world joined the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and top officials of the Central Tibetan Administration to celebrate the 88th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the main Tibetan monastery in Dharamshala, where Tibetans performed dances to mark the auspicious occasion and wish him a long life. His Holiness declared that he will live another 15 to 20 years and will continue to serve humanity with love and compassion.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) organized an event to celebrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 88th birthday in the courtyard of the Tibetan Main Temple (Tsuklakhang) in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India, on July 6, 2023. His Holiness attended the celebration, and thousands of people around Dharamshala and around the world wished him a happy birthday. The chief guest was the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, and special guests included members of parliament from Taiwan, Japan and India. Top officials from CTA and thousands of people joined the celebration. Tibetan students from various schools in Dharamshala, Tibetan dancers from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts and other Tibetans performed dances to celebrate this auspicious day.

At the celebration, Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the CTA read out the Kashag's statement on the 88th anniversary of the birth of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and said: "On this occasion, we have endeavoured to highlight a fraction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s profound meritorious services at the global level. His Holiness the Dalai Lama made His maiden visit to the Buddhist countries of Japan and Thailand in 1967. During His first visits to 11 countries in Europe in 1973, His Holiness the Dalai Lama strongly emphasised that, along with material development, there is an urgent need to cultivate universal responsibility and develop a good heart irrespective of whether one is a believer or non-believer."

"In 1979, His Holiness the Dalai Lama embarked on visits to 24 cities and more than 40 universities and religious centres in the US, thereby establishing direct contact with Western society. At that time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stressed on the need to develop a common approach, maintain harmonious coexistence among the different religious traditions of the world and incorporate a non-violent approach that could combat global challenges and create a more compassionate world," Sikyong continued.

"It is well-known that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has had a great interest in Western science which is evident from His deep curiosity in machines since His childhood. In 1979, His Holiness the Dalai Lama initiated dialogue with renowned physicists such as David Bohm in Europe, and more such engagements with experts from psychology, neurology, traditional medicine and ecology took place at Amherst College in 1984," Sikyong added.

"The meeting between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Western scientists at His residence in Dharamsala in 1987 led to 35 successive ground-breaking Mind and Life conferences until 2022. Based on the Buddhist science of dependent arising and the Buddhist tradition of nonviolence, His Holiness the Dalai Lama engaged with modern scientists for more than three decades on a comparative study of India’s Nalanda tradition of dependent arising and modern science, leading to an unprecedented enrichment of scientific knowledge," Sikyong stated.

The statement of Kashag stated,"Travelling across the globe, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has visited around 60 countries in five continents over the years. Amongst these, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the US alone around 60 times; Germany 47 times; Japan 43 times; Switzerland 32 times; Italy 31 times and France 26 times. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits draw huge audiences filling auditoriums, stadiums and public parks. Till date, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made around 500 international visits, constantly meeting with intellectuals, scientists and the general public. His Holiness the Dalai Lama also met with around 500 global political and religious leaders. In recognition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s meritorious service to humanity, governments, parliaments, institutions and foundations have conferred over 200 honorary doctorates and awards, including around 73 awards in the US alone."

"Taking this opportunity, the Kashag would like to express our deep appreciation and thank the Central and State Governments of India for tirelessly taking the responsibility of looking after the security of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We also thank all those who have unwavering faith and devotion in the global vision and leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama," the statement stated.

Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel then read out the statement of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile (TPiE) on the occasion of the 88th anniversary of the birth of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and said,"In recognition of His Holiness’ untiring work for the wellbeing of others, he was bestowed with over a hundred awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has also authored over two-hundred books, in Tibetan and English, on the importance of loving kindness and compassion, on ethics and environment. In commemorating this auspicious occasion, we should educate ourselves with the books he has authored thus far. As His Holiness often mentions that being practical in following his advice and being kind would be the best gift for him on his birthday, we should study and practice his advice, particularly his four principal commitments."

Speaker said, "Despite severe restrictions on celebrating His Holiness’ birthday in Tibet, yet due to indomitable faith and samaya of Tibetans towards His Holiness, he often mentions that Tibetans inside Tibet are always in his thoughts and prayers. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Tibetans inside Tibet for reviving and protecting Tibet’s honor, religion, culture and language."

"Recently, a short clip of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was manipulatively edited by the Chinese government and circulated in various social media platforms to vilify His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is the ultimate leader of Tibetans and a figure of faith across the global Buddhist community. However, this act of malicious intent failed to restrict His Holiness’ ever-expanding glow and pristine deeds unsullied by worldly faults in all the ten directions. I extend my special appreciation and gratitude to all Tibetans, dignitaries, and especially the Himalayan people for displaying their unwavering faith and devotion in His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama," he added.

"I, on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, would like to thank India and the people of India for always rendering their utmost support for the just cause of Tibet. We also like to extend our gratitude to the USA, European countries and others who have supported the Tibetan struggle, directly or indirectly, which include – governments and people of the world. I appeal for their continued and greater support to the Tibetan cause," the Speaker of TPiE concluded.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama then addressed the assembly and said that, although he is 88 today, his face looks like that of a 50-year-old and his mind is still fresh. He will live another 15 to 20 years for world peace, and continue to serve humanity with love and compassion. He also spoke of a disarmed world and world peace.

Then the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh addressed His Holiness’s 88th birthday celebrations and said,"Your kindness and compassion never fails to inspire us and you continue to be a source of learning and joy for the world, you have always bestowed your love and blessings on us and we are really grateful for it.

The Chief Minister appreciated His Holiness’s greatness by stating, "You have been fighting since a long time to provide justice to Tibet and its people holding on to your principles of peace and non-violence throughout the journey,” he further highlighted how the Nobel peace prize winner - His Holiness has always fought for world peace and human rights to spread the message of love, peace and compassion and humanity.

Chief Mininster Sukhvinder Singh urged the audience to follow the Tibet Spiritual Leader’s teachings and to further amplify his message of kindness and brotherhood, “On this occasion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday I appeal everyone to make the education and vision of His Holiness a part of your life, and to learn and seek inspiration from his life to live by the path of peace and kindness,” he said.

“To all the people of Tibet old and young, you are warmly welcomed to live peacefully in the state of Himachal Pradesh like you have been for the past 60 years and more, even in the future the state shall remain abode to the people of Tibet, thank you” said the Chief Minister concluding his address.

The celebration continued throughout the day with dancing and singing to mark the 88th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.