Dharamsala: The Dalai Lama marked his 80th birthday today and vowed to continue to work for promotion of religious harmony as thousands of Tibetans and supporters joined the celebrations at the main temple Tsuglakhang at Mcleod Ganj.
Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, tourism minister Viplove Thakur, were among those who joined the celebrations.
The Dalai Lama's 80th birthday was celebrated today as he was born on this day according to the Tibetan lunar calendar while his actual birthday falls on July 6.
Thanking the people for their conviction and faith in him, the Dalai Lama said, "I am no superman," and explained that whatever he has learnt and achieved in this life is due to his enthusiasm to learn.
"You all praised me a lot today but I am just a simple Buddhist monk," he said. "I am 80 years old now and have lived my entire life practicing the knowledge that I have gained from the Nalanda tradition," he said, adding that he would continue to work for promotion of compassion and religious harmony.
"I hope you will join me again to celebrate my 90th birthday," the Nobel laureate said in a lighter vein. Lauding India for its diversity, the Tibetan spiritual leader said, "India is the prime example of interdependency and mutual harmony and all the major religious traditions exist here and they have lived peacefully with one another for centuries. This mutli-culturism of India is the true beauty of India."
Urging Tibetans to study and preserve the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama said, "The wealth of ancient Indian knowledge and Tibetan culture is available only in the Tibetan language at present and no other language in the world contains the essence of Buddha's teachings."
Tibetan PM-in-exile Lobsang Sangay thanked the Dalai Lama for his leadership and commitment to human happiness and promotion of universal responsibility to foster religious harmony and to safeguard Tibet's culture and environment.
Union ministers Mahesh Sharma and Kiren Rijiju also greeted the Dalai Lama and recalled his struggle for the cause of Tibetan people.