Tibet marks Dalai Lama's birth year in public, private celebration

(Photo: REUTERS / Navesh Chitrakar)A Tibetan man carries a portrait of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, during the function organised to mark "Losar" or the Tibetan New Year at a Tibetan Refugee Camp in Lalitpur February 19, 2015.

With Chinese authorities seemingly busy with the Lunar New Year celebrations, Tibetans openly celebrated the birth year of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama last week.

Radio Free Asia reported that Tibetans from Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces commemorated the Dalai Lama's 80th birth year, which coincides with the traditional celebration of Losar, or the Lunar New Year.

At some monasteries in Ngaba and Golog prefectures in Sichuan province, monks and others put up life-sized images of the Dalai Lama on thrones at courtyards.

They offered prayers for the Dalai Lama's continuing good health, a source told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"Those taking part included both monks from the monasteries and laypersons from the local Tibetan community," said the source who talked anonymously saying that speaking to the media could jeopardize his safety and well-being.

"They threw prayer leaflets in the air, conducted fireworks displays, and openly marked the 80th anniversary year of [the Dalai Lama's] birth," the source continued.

How authorities received the information and responded with the series of events held in honor of the Dalai Lama were immediately known, although the government there is imposing a ban on the image of the Dalai Lama.

Authorities have meted out harsh punishment on Tibetans posting pictures of the Dalai Lama in public or celebrating his July 6 birthday in public.

Some Tibetans on the other hand have been placed under detention for taking photos using their mobile phone.

Another source, who also asked for anonymity saying it could jeopardize his security, told RFA it appeared that a lot of people practically threw away a party right in the comfort of their own homes.

"These were held with clear indications that the Tibetans were celebrating not only the New Year but also the anniversary year of [the Dalai Lama's] birth," the source said.

"This year, the number of Tibetans celebrating Losar is much greater than the numbers who celebrated during the past few years."

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India during a failed national uprising against Chinese occupation in 1959. Beijing has accused exiled Tibetans of fomenting dissent against their area.

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