The prayers mark the 84th birthday of the Dalai Lama

DHARAMSALA: Dressed in traditional costumes, hundreds of Tibetans joined on Saturday to celebrate the 84th birthday of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in the main Tsuglakhang temple here.

The Dalai Lama, revered by the Tibetans as a living god, attended the prayers and blessed the meeting, which also included Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile.

Special prayer sessions were held for the long life of His Holiness, a spokesman for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) told the IANS.

In issuing a statement on the occasion, the Tibetan parliament thanked the government of India and its people for providing assistance to the Tibetan people.

The statement says that 60 years have passed since Tibet was forcibly annexed to China, which resulted in the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans fleeing into exile.

The government and people of India with whom Tibet had deep cultural ties since ancient times have been very generous in providing all possible assistance and facilities to the Tibetan people during this difficult time, he said.

Born on July 6, 1935 in the village of Taktser, in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of Thubten Gyatso.

He fled Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese government in 1959. Since then, he has spent his time in exile pushing for the autonomy of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign for democracy and freedom in his homeland. However, the Chinese see it as a hostile element bent on dividing Tibet from China.

India is home to around 1,00,000 Tibetans.