Prayers for the long life and good health of the Tibetan spiritual leader the 14th Dalai Lama started on Monday, a day before the Tibetan community in exile marks the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against China.
The 'long life' prayers were organised at the Tsuglag Khang (main temple) at Mcleodganj near here, the abode-in-exile of the Dalai Lama. The temple is located right in front of the sprawling palace complex of the Tibetan leader.
Hundreds of Tibetans and monks were joined by the top Tibetan leadership based here in exile as the prayers started. The prayers have been organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Tibetan community. Dharamsala is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Born on July 6, 1935, the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, will turn 74 this year.
This is the second time within one year that 'long life' prayers have been held for the Dalai Lama. They were held in July last year to coincide with his 73rd birthday celebrations.
Though he has looked healthy in recent months and has been travelling abroad, the health of the ageing Tibetan leader has been a cause of concern for the Tibetan government-in-exile (TGIE) and the 100,000-strong Tibetan community living in exile in India.
The Dalai Lama has been to hospitals in Mumbai and New Delhi on at least four occasions in the last one year. He was first admitted to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai in August last year with abdominal pain. He was subsequently admitted to New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in October last year and was operated upon for gall bladder stones.
The Dalai Lama was again admitted to the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi this February after complaints of pain.
The Tibetan leader had to cancel some of his foreign visits last year due to his poor health and the gall bladder surgery. He was advised complete rest by doctors.
His annual teaching sessions at the Tsuglag Khang temple in March this year have also been cancelled, though he is scheduled to visit the US and other countries in May-June this year.
Officials in his office here said that the hectic schedule of the Dalai Lama, including his foreign tours and teaching schedules, were being curtailed in view of his age and health.
The Dalai Lama is the face of the Tibetan struggle against China to see a free Tibet. He is considered quite close to top world leaders, including those from the US, France, Canada, Germany among others.
The Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India since March 1959 after he escaped from Tibet.