KATHMANDU – Nepali authorities banned on Thursday Buddhists and the Tibetan community living in exile in the capital from celebrating the 82nd birthday of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, so as not to hurt the sentiments of friendly nations.
Thursday’s main event planned in the Srongtsen monastery in Kathmandu was called off on police order, prompting the followers of the Dalai Lama to celebrate in smaller groups elsewhere.
“We don’t want any activities against our friendly nations to take place in our territory. Such activities are barred,” the spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Deepak Kafle, told EFE.
Kathmandu Police spokesperson supertintendent Pradhumma Karki confirmed that celebrations had been banned and that officers had been deployed to prevent followers from congregating.
“Around 600 police personnel have been deployed in the area to stop any activities that are targeted against our friendly nation,” said Karki, without any explicit mention of China, a country with which Nepal maintains close bilateral ties especially after it shifted its foreign policy in favor of the Asian giant and reducing dependence on India.
“We couldn’t have a big celebration. We marked the birthday of His Holiness in small numbers in different monasteries fearing police intervention,” Tenzin Lama, a Buddhist monk from the Santenlin monastery, told EFE.
According to Lama, the police even forbade them from traveling to other parts of Kathmandu on Thursday.
Last year on the Dalai Lama’s birthday, police arrested 28 of his followers, mostly exiled Tibetans.
According to the Gregorian calendar, the spiritual leader was born on July 6, 1935 in Taktser, Amdo, in eastern Tibet.
In 1959, after the revolt in Tibet against Communist China, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee and take refuge in India, where the authorities allowed him to establish the Tibetan government in exile in the northern town of Dharamsala.
This year the Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his peaceful struggle for the liberation of Tibet, chose to celebrate his birthday at the important Buddhist center of Ladakh in northern India.