Dharamsala, India 5 November 2007 (Phayul) - His Holiness the Dalai Lama was received by an endless line of cheering crowd and welcome ceremonies right from the local airport to his private residence here in Dharamsala on Saturday.
His Holiness arrived in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, his exile base in northern India, after a very high-level visit to United States where he was awarded the nation's highest civilian honour, the Congressional Gold Medal, on October 17. Also in the same leg of visit to Canada, he was officially met by the Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a warm diplomatic welcome in his Parliament Hill Office in Ottawa.
Tibetans and Tibet supporters feel the US honouring of the Dalai Lama at the highest official level has indeed boosted their morale and the Tibet's cause. In the past, many of the leaders of the countries, who recently engaged with the Tibetan leader at official levels, shied away from meeting His Holiness at official venues to avoid Chinese displeasure.
Prime Minister Harper and US President George Bush joined a growing number of western leaders who have, in recent months, publicly received the exiled Tibetan leader in official venues ignoring Chinese government's sharp and routinely perverse objections.
The Dalai Lama, revered by Tibetans as their undisputed leader and a symbol of hope of their freedom in the world, was publicly received by Australian prime minister and, German and Austrian chancellors earlier this year at official levels.
His Holiness was greeted by Gyalwa Karmapa Rinpoche, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Mr Karma Chophel, Deputy Speaker Mrs Gyari Dolma, members of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, and heads of the all the Tibetan institutions in Dharamshala upon his arrival at the Gaggal airport.
Thousands of people, including Buddhist monks and nuns holding ceremonial scarves and burning incense, school children waving Tibetan national flags and singing songs, and local Indian and visiting tourist well wishers, were seen waving and cheering as the long line of motorcade escorting His Holiness made its way from the airport to his private residence on the hilltop of McLeod Ganj.
Several traditionally decorated welcome gates were set up at key points along the way to cheer the coming back of the Tibetan leader to his exile hometown. The main road through the McLeod town was painted with Tibetan Buddhist auspicious symbols and thousands of monks and nuns held scarves, flowers and sacred Buddhist urns and other ritual objects to give divine welcome to His Holiness.
Tibetans in their different regional costumes eagerly waited several hours to welcome His Holiness and, get a glimpse of him and feel blessed by it. Smell of burning incense, people holding ceremonial scarves in offering pose and fluttering Tibetan national flags flying high along the road side are all one could see as His Holiness arrived late Saturday afternoon here.
Musical instruments were played by Indian band group at the entrance to the McLeod town as local Indians joined in to give equally jubilant welcome to the Tibetan leader whom they revere as 'Guru ji' in their dialect.
On Saturday, the other wise small yet, cosmopolitan town of McLeod wore a complete different outlook. It appeared as if the whole town was celebrating a traditional Tibetan festival in all its hues. Tibetan homes and shops could not miss hoisting National flag of Tibet as a symbol of Tibetan pride and victory brought in by their most inspiring leader.
Elderly Tibetans, as they are accustomed to it, were seen tirelessly murmuring earnest goodwill prayers for their leader. High pitched opera like song by Tibetan artists and Booming thunderous sound of Buddhist religious instrument merged together in the air as the Tibetan leader was swiftly ushered into his official residence in exile.
At the end of the whole episode, one could well feel that Tibetans will always remember October 17 as another historic day in their struggle for freedom in exile. Saturday's incredible ceremonial welcome for His Holiness the Dalai Lama will stand as testimony to it.