The third highest spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the 11th Panchen Lama, has visited his remote hometown in Lhari county in Nagqu prefecture in Tibet for the first time in 11 years, the state media reported on Wednesday.
Gyaincain Norbu, the 17-year-old Lama said he was happy with the great changes in his hometown and hoped to come back soon.
The Panchen Lama, who is mostly based in Beijing, paid a two-day visit to his hometown, the first since his ordination in 1995, Xinhua news agency reported.
On his arrival on Sunday, the Panchen Lama was hailed by a huge crowd, including thousands of Buddhists and a hundred headsmen in costume on horseback, it said.
On Monday, he presided over a blessing ritual for nearly 4,000 local people.
"My lifelong dream has come true. I finally met the Panchen Lama and received his blessings," said 69-year-old local headsman Gyaba, with a big smile on his face.
During his visit, he donated money and goods to a local school, a hospital and 43 poor families.
Gyaincain Norbu was approved as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Chinese government in 1995, disregarding the wishes of the exiled Dalai Lama, who had nominated Gendun Choekyi Nyima.