Dalai Lama supports exiles’ decision not to celebrate New Year

February 24th, 2009 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, Feb 24 (IANS) The spiritual head of Tibetan community, the Dalai Lama, Tuesday endorsed the decision of the Tibetans not to celebrate Losar (Tibetan New Year), which begins Wednesday.
“I admire the determined move of the Tibetans, inside and outside Tibet, not to indulge in celebratory activities during this New Year,” he said in a statement.

According to the Tibetan lunar calendar, Losar is the first day of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated in a big way.

However, the Nobel laureate extended his greetings to the Tibetans on the occasion.

“On the occasion of the Earth-Ox New Year of the 17th Rabjung cycle in the Tibetan Royal Year 2136, I would like to greet all the Tibetans. I pray that there be peace and prosperity and that our just cause may see gradual resolution,” he said.

“We have the tradition to observe the New Year with elaborate celebrations. However, last year (2008) in Tibet we witnessed hundreds of Tibetans losing their lives and several thousands facing detention and torture in response to the widespread display by Tibetans all over Tibet of their discontentment with the Chinese authorities’ policies.”

“Therefore, since they faced immense difficulties and sufferings, the occasion of this New Year is certainly not a period when we can have the usual celebrations and gaiety. I admire the determined move by the Tibetans not to indulge in celebratory activities during this New Year,” the Dalai Lama said.

The Dalai Lama, who along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in this hill station in northern India in 1959, has spent the last two decades of his exile campaigning for “meaningful autonomy” for his homeland.

In March 2008, protests against Chinese rule in Lhasa erupted into violence which spread to other areas of western China.

Tibet’s government-in-exile, which is based here, said more than 219 people were killed and 1,294 injured in the subsequent Chinese crackdown.

Nearly six million Tibetans live in Tibet region of China while over 150,000 live in other countries, most of them in India.

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