Dharamsala, HP, India, 20 October 2008 (By Phurbu Thinley, Phayul) - Hundreds of Tibetans and well-wishers holding traditional ceremonial scarves and burning incense greeted His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he returned to his exile hometown here this evening.
The 73-year old Tibetan leader arrived from the Indian capital, where he successfully underwent a surgery to remove gall stones at a private hospital.
After spending more than a week in Delhi for the medical treatment and time to recover from it, an overwhelmingly emotional welcome marked his arrival here.
The Nobel laureate appeared cheerful and constantly waved and smiled at endless queue of well-wishers who had lined up to welcome him in McLeod Ganj, in Upper Dharamsala, where his official residence is located.
His Holiness was received at the Gaggal Airport, which is an hour drive from McLeod Ganj, by His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, Senior leaders and officials of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and heads of major Tibetan non-governmental organizations.
In McLeod Ganj, Buddhist prayers flags were put up and auspicious Buddhist symbols were drawn along the road leading to His Holiness’ residence to welcome him. Welcome gates, decked up in traditional Tibetan style with auspicious greetings, and banners welcoming the Tibetan leader were also put up at different points.
Tibetans revere the Dalai Lama as their undisputed leader and a symbol of hope of their freedom in the world.
His health has been a cause of concern for Tibetans since he complained of abdominal pain in August and cancelled his otherwise hectic schedules for a while.
Although his senior aides and doctors looking after him assured that there was no cause of concern over his health, Tibetans and well wishers have regularly gathered at the Main Tibetan Temple (Tsuglag Khang) here to offer prayers for the continued well being and long life of their beloved leader.
In August, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was admitted to a hospital in Mumbai and underwent tests for abdominal discomfort. Doctors advised him to cancel a planned trip to Europe and rest, saying he was suffering from exhaustion.
The Dalai Lama normally spends several months a year travelling the world promoting human values, teaching Buddhism and, advocating for Tibetan rights and their struggle for greater freedom.
After returning to Dharamsala, the northern hill town which serves as the headquarters for the Tibetan government-in-exile, he made a few public appearances before deciding to go for another round of medical tests in Delhi.
He was discharged from hospital Thursday, nearly a week after undergoing surgery to remove gallstones, and spend few more days resting in Delhi.
Calling the surgery a successful one, Dalai Lama’s secretary Chhime Rinzin Choekyapa had, earlier, said there was absolutely no need for well wishers and Tibetan public to worry about His Holiness’ condition.
'Doctors have already given 'green signal' for him to resume his activities,' he said.
His office had also announced that His Holiness’ schedules, including travel programmes, would remain unchanged.
His Holiness has "fully recovered from his illness" and would start his daily routine of prayers and meeting disciples from tomorrow, his spokesman Tenzin Taklha reportedly said today.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is expected to make a one-week trip to Japan as planned at the end of this month.