Tawang, April 8: Today the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama started addressing devotees at Tawang Stadium in Arunachal Pradesh. Chief Minister Pema Khandu expressed himself saying that "It was 58 years ago that the Dalai Lama came to India and entered via Tawang. It is a historic moment for us and the people of Arunachal Pradesh."On Firday, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama arrived in Tawang monastery of Arunachal Pradesh amidst large number of followers who welcomed him with warm greetings. The 81-year-old monk reached the 17th-century Tawang Gaden Lhatse monastery, where he was welcomed by local monks and Buddhist devotees from throughout the region, including several from neighboring Bhutan.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu accompanied the Dalai Lama in his journey from Dirang, about 130km till Tawang. Dalai Lama’s first stop was Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh. Dalai Lama was also accompanied by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and number of senior officials of government.
Holding Tibetan religious flags and prayer scarves schoolchildren stood on either side of the road, welcomed Dalai Lama on his way to Tawang monastery. People waited for hours to pay their obeisance to the Dalai Lama, whom followers of Tibetan Buddhism worship as "living God".
Buddhists from across Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and other states have arrived in Tawang. "I can't miss this opportunity. I have come with my family," Rinchen Dorjee, a businesswoman from Bhutan, said.
“We have contributed money and spent around Rs. 3 Lakh on decorating the place to welcome our beloved His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It’s a dream come true for us”, said Tsering Tsewang, one of the organisers. “Even though we don’t get many facilities here, but we shall never desert Indian government. We are born Indians and shall die as Indians,” he added.
Tawang deputy commissioner Sang Phuntso said the Dalai Lama would stay at the Tawang monastery for four days. "The Tibetan leader is scheduled to fly to Itanagar by a helicopter. If the weather does not improve, he may return to Guwahati by road," a senior police officer said.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying slammed India for extending the spiritual leader an invitation to the region. “The Chinese side opposes the Dalai Lama's visit to the disputed area and any country's provision of venues for his anti-China separatist activities,” she said at a media briefing, adding that Beijing had “lodged stern representations” with New Delhi. Dismissing China’s concerns, Indian government had responded and termed Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang as purely “religious”.