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Birthday Celebrations Continue Despite Chinese Ban

By Tenzin Samten  /  July 13, 2017;

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photo is shown on a shrine at Andu Yakgo monastery in Sichuan’s Kardze prefecture.
Photo: RFA

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama turned 82 on July 6, and even the Tibetans inside Tibet didn’t shun away from celebrating the special day despite the Chinese ban, according to a Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) local source.

Tibetans in Tibet honored their spiritual leader’s birthday with prayer gatherings and public picnics. In Rebgoing County in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, Tibetans closed their shops and burned incense to observe the day. “They also organised picnic outings with friends and family to celebrate the joyous occasion, which coincided with the blossoming of many different kinds of flowers in the area,” said the RFA source, speaking on anonymity.

Photos and videos shared on social media showed Tibetans in other regions also making special offerings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s portraits in celebration.

In Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, Tibetans openly held prayers and visited monasteries including Jokhang Temple, the city’s main temple, despite the heavy presence of plain clothed security officers.

Monks at Andu Yakgo monastery in Ngaba prefecture in the Amdo region held special prayers for the Dalai Lama’s health and longevity. Sources in the area said that although monks are on summer retreat, over 60 of them gathered to hold the ceremony.

Many Tibetans also shared the Dalai Lama’s photo and wished him birthday greetings on Wechat, a Chinese social media app. However, when other users attempted to share the posts, they were not able to do so. One source stated: “The Chinese were very strict about online content sharing around the time of the Dalai Lama’s birthday.”

In Kardze prefecture, the annual horse racing and incense-burning festival fell on the same date as His Holiness’s birthday and Tibetans were told to postpone the festival. The residents of Tawu County’s Nagtren village defied the orders and carried on with the festivities but were met with massive deployment of security forces whose threats disrupted the event.

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