Dalai Lama celebrates 70th birthday

 A huge party took place in Dharamsala, India yesterday to mark the 70th birth of the Dalai Lama. Crowds waited outside the Dalai Lama's home from early in the morning. Festivities began with the unveiling of a book on India's independence hero, Mahatma Gandhi. The day was then marked with a Tibetan dance and music festival. The Dalai Lama has lived in India since he fled from Chinese troops in 1959, basing his government-in-exile in the hill-top town. Responding to a query from journalists about whether the Tibetan dispute with China would be resolved in his lifetime, the Dalai Lama smiled and said: "I hope so. We need patience and determination". The Dalai Lama received greetings from religious leaders around the world. The Head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexi II said: "The Russian Orthodox Church highly appreciates the good relations it has with the followers of Buddhism and hopes for their further development." The Patriarch wishes the Dalai Lama "bodily and spiritual firmness, peace, joy, success in efforts for the benefit of the Buddhist community and the entire human race." Born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family in north-eastern Tibet, he was recognised at the age of two as the incarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. Since then he has lived much of his life as a simple monk, spending many hours praying and meditating. But his life changed course dramatically after Chinese troops invaded eastern Tibet in 1951. Eight years later, during a bloody suppression of an anti-Chinese uprising, the Dalai Lama and his government fled to India where they have lived ever since. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent struggle for Tibet.

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