Dharamsala: Hundreds of devotees including foreigners gathered at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh on the 50th founding anniversary of the Tibetan paramilitary in India, and offered special prayers for the longevity of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
The prayers were held at Tsuglagkhang Temple that echoed with chants and constant reverberation of traditional cymbals and the Tibetan prayer wheels.
Tibetan Buddhist monks dressed in traditional maroon cloaks and caps received the Dalai Lama with customary ceremonials.
They escorted their revered leader to the ancient devotional tunes played on flutes by locals and beats of drums, and then he was conducted towards the temple.
Members of the Central Tibet Administration (CTA) as well as the Tibetan Prime Minister in-exile Lobsang Sangay also participated in the prayers and allied rituals.
"Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Tibetan Army in India (sic) and they are celebrating their anniversary but this is an annual long-life Puja (prayer) for the Dalai Lama, they do this every year. It will last for four days," said Victoria, a devotee of the Dalai Lama.
China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist for his long struggle for Tibetan autonomy, and tensions over the issue are at their highest in years after a spate of protests and self-immolations, which have prompted a Chinese security crackdown.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising, has accused China of "cultural genocide". Beijing considers him a separatist and does not trust his insistence that he only wants greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.
The Dalai Lama still casts a long shadow over policy-making, and many Tibetans worry what shape their struggle for greater autonomy will take once the charismatic leader, with his message of non-violence, dies.