Dalai Lama to Celebrate 80th Birthday in California
LOS ANGELES: The Dalai Lama launches three days of celebrations today in California for his 80th birthday at what is billed as a Global Compassion Summit but which is expected to draw protests.
Thousands of followers and fans of the Tibetan spiritual leader are to attend events in Anaheim and at the University of Irvine, including on his actual birthday tomorrow.
“This milestone occasion is a joyous opportunity for people to come together in celebration of His Holiness’ life and achievements,” said Venerable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, founder of the non-profit Friends of the Dalai Lama.
“On this very special birthday we will have a chance to celebrate his accomplishments in many areas and hear his exciting view for the years to come.”
The celebrations start with a speech by the Dalai Lama today on “awakening compassion” and the “transformative power of creativity and art” at the Honda Center in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles.
Tomorrow, the Tibetan religious figurehead will discuss climate change and “wisdom, vision and experience,” including with other Nobel laureates, while on Tuesday events wrap up with a session on youth leadership.
The Dalai Lama already marked his official 80th birthday last month — on June 21 according to the Tibetan lunar calendar — in Dharamsala, his hometown in exile in India.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from the rest of China and has called him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In 2011 the Dalai Lama delegated his political responsibilities to a prime minister elected by Tibetan exiles in an attempt to lessen his own totemic status and secure the movement’s future after his death.
But he remains the most powerful rallying point for Tibetans, both in exile and in their homeland. Not everyone is celebrating his birthday in California: protests are expected by Shugden Buddhists, who revere a deity denounced since 1996 by the Dalai Lama — whom they accuse of religious persecution.
“We will be loudly and vividly protesting outside all three days of the Dalai Lama’s events in Anaheim and at UC Irvine,” spokeswoman Rachael Jeffrey told AFP, saying hundreds of Buddhist demonstrators were expected to turn out.
Ticket prices for the Anaheim event, which can host 18,000 people, range USD 35-USD 180, while tickets for the UC Irvine events cost up to USD 93.
Any profits from the three days will go to charities chosen by the Dalai Lama.