Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Thursday celebrated his birthday two months in advance as his long-time friend and fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu graced the occasion.
The event, held at upper Tibetan Children Village (TCV) School, was organised by Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also called the government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama turns 80 on July 6.
Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama pre-celebrated his birthday by cutting a cake, while Tutu shook legs with TCV children to make the occasion memorable.
Addressing the gathering, South African anti- apartheid icon Archbishop expressed hope that Tibet would be free and independent in future. "One day you people will dance, sing and celebrate in free Tibet," said the Archbishop, adding, "China will realize that democracy is far more valuable than repressive rule."
He also expressed gratitude towards India for being generous towards Tibetans and hosting them for over half a century. Speaking on the occasion, the Dalai Lama expressed gratefulness to Tutu for visiting Dharamsala.
Tutu is on a week-long visit to Dharamsala and the two spiritual leaders are holding conversations for their collaborative work "Book of Joy"
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Kashag (cabinet) of the exile government, led by Sikyong (Exile Tibetan PM) Lobsang Sangay, organised a dinner reception and cultural show for Tutu.
The dinner reception and cultural show were held at Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) and was attended by the Archbishop's entourage, which include his daughter Mpho.
Artistes from TIPA presented numerous Tibetan folk songs and cultural dances, including the famed Tibetan acrobatic dance, popularly known as Rolpa. The cultural show concluded with a special group song written in honour of the Archbishop's second visit to Dharamsala.
Visibly moved after Sangay translated the meaning of the lyrics to him, the Archbishop went on the stage to greet each one of the artistes and hugged them. Wearing a traditional Tibetan hat, Tutu also danced with the artistes.
Delighted by the performances, he remarked, "It's important to preserve your culture and traditions, and I am glad to see that you have preserved your culture so well. It's a moment of great pride."
"What a wonderful experience, beautiful singing, dancing and delicious food. Super, Thank you," he later wrote on TIPA's visitor diary.
Exile Tibetan PM expressed pleasure for being able to host the Dalai Lama's friend and fellow Nobel Laureate and present to him the unique artistic heritage of Tibet.