In a bold show of reverence and spiritual allegiance, a monastery in Amdo Ngaba held public celebrations to mark the Dalai Lama’s 80th birth year on the first day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.
Over 3,000 people came to offer prayer scarfs to a life sized portrait of the 14th Dalai Lama with paper Lungta prayer flags filling the sky above Sergon Thubten Chokle Namgyal Ling, a monastery belonging to the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The practice of celebrating people when they reach the age of 80 is called Kyarton, and is a commonly practiced tradition in the Amdo region of historical Tibet.
The Dalai Lama’s 80th year has been heavily anticipated in recent years with major ceremonies and celebrations planned to take place around the world but not in Tibet where the Chinese rulers of the region have been forcing Tibetans to disown their support of the Dalai Lama since 1994.
The surprisingly bold public celebration at this monastery comes amidst heavy security build up in the region in the days leading up to the Tibetan New Year, leading some Tibetans to fear that the monastery may suffer reprisals from the authorities once the New Year holidays are over.