Dalai Lama celebrates 80th birthday with California summit

Author: Associated Press
Yancho Sabev

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) – It won’t be a small, private affair when the Dalai Lama celebrates his 80th birthday this weekend in Southern California.

Hundreds of well-wishers are expected at a three-day Global Compassion Summit to mark the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s big day, with events Sunday through Tuesday at Anaheim’s Honda Center and the University of California, Irvine.

The Dalai Lama himself plans to deliver talks all three days on global compassion, creativity and the arts, youth leadership and climate change. His actual birthday is on Monday.

Plans for the festivities include an 8-foot-tall birthday cake complete with maroon-and-gold frosting – the same hues the Dalai Lama wears on his Tibetan robes – but guests can’t bring gifts for security reasons.

Instead, the Dalai Lama wants well-wishers to post quotes, photos and videos of simple acts of compassion on their social media accounts with the hashtag #WithCompassion.

Not everyone, however, is thrilled with the spiritual leader’s celebration.

The International Shugden Community plans protests outside all events similar to ones conducted last month in London when the Dalai Lama opened a Buddhist center there.

The group’s members accuse him of preventing them from following their form of Buddhism, which he once practiced but renounced in the 1970s.

The Dalai Lama was born to farmers in a rural and mountainous area of Tibet. He was identified as the 14th reincarnation of the Buddhist nation’s spiritual leader when he was just 2.

He was enthroned in 1940 and assumed full political power in 1950. He fled to India during an uprising against Chinese forces in 1959 and has been in exile ever since.

He is widely revered for his compassionate acts and commitment to the spiritual well-being of fellow Tibetans.

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