Dharamsala: Braving heavy rains thousands of Tibetan exiles Tuesday attended celebrations to mark the 75th birthday of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama here in Himachal Pradesh.
Large crowds began to assemble since morning at the Tsuglagkhang temple to join the birthday celebrations.
"Special prayer sessions were held for the well-being and long life of the Dalai Lama," Thubten Samphel, a spokesperson for the government-in-exile, told IANS.
"His Holiness attended the prayers and blessed his followers from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorjee, also attended the function," he added.
The hilltop Tsuglagkhang temple is close to the official palace of the Dalai Lama at McLeodganj here.
A group of Chinese from Australia greeted the Nobel Laureate on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) prayed for the Dalai Lama`s long life.
Born July 6, 1935, to a farming family in a small hamlet in Taktser in Amdo province in northeastern Tibet, the two-year-old child, earlier named Lhamo Dhondup, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, in 1937.
He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, basing his Tibetan government-in-exile here.
The Dalai Lama has favoured "greater autonomy" for Tibetans rather than complete independence.
Though he has expressed his willingness to go back to Tibet and resolve the complicated Tibetan issue by agreeing to an autonomous Tibetan set-up under Chinese control, Beijing has shown no inclination to oblige him.
Chinese leaders have, in fact, called him a `splittist` - one who wants Tibet to secede from China.
In 1989, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for Tibet. He got the US Congressional Gold Medal in October 2007, even in the face of protests by China.
The Dalai Lama, despite his age, continues to travel throughout the world, meeting presidents, prime ministers and rulers of various countries and giving his teachings on Buddhism.