Dharamsala: On the occasion of the Dalai Lama's 77th birthday on Friday, thousands of Tibetan exiles and foreigners assembled to celebrate and to pray for the long life of their spiritual leader in Himachal Pradesh.
Large crowds began to gather since morning at the Tsuglagkhang temple to join the birthday celebrations.
"Special prayer sessions were held for the long life of His Holiness," said Tashi, a Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) spokesperson.
The Dalai Lama, revered by the Tibetans as a 'living god', attended the prayers held at the hilltop Tsuglagkhang temple, close to his official palace at McLeodganj.
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who has been residing here for the last few years with his followers, also attended the function.
A group of Chinese settled in various countries greeted the Nobel laureate on the occasion.
In a brief address in his Tibetan dialect, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, known for his trademark maroon robes, thanked the government of India and the people for their hospitality to the exiled Tibetans.
He thanked the Tibetan for their heartfelt greetings.The entire cabinet of the CTA and Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay were present at the function.
Born on July 6, 1935, at Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959, basing his government-in-exile here that never won recognition from any country. The spiritual leader was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign for democracy and freedom in his homeland. Since fleeing to India, he has spent his time in exile pushing for autonomy for Tibet.
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.