Madison, WI, USA, 24 July 2008 (By Ryan Foley, Associated Press) - Tibetans wished the Dalai Lama a long and happy life on Thursday with an elaborate Buddhist ritual performed for the first time in the U.S.
"Maybe next time we'll see him in Tibet," Tulku said.
Tibetans living in the U.S. invited the Dalai Lama to the long-life ceremony last year.
The ritual has taken on added significance with developments in Tibet since then. The Chinese have accused the Dalai Lama of backing violent uprisings in Tibet earlier this year and of plotting to disrupt next month's Olympics in Beijing. He has strongly denied those allegations.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after the Chinese used force to quell a popular uprising. China claims it has ruled Tibet for centuries. Tibetans say their homeland functioned as an independent state for most of that time and they would like that autonomy back.
Lhundub Choeden, who compiled the chants for Thursday's ceremony, said the long life offering was especially important for Tibetans.
"His Holiness is the eyes on their faces, the hearts in their chests," he wrote in an editor's note accompanying the text. "There is no other than His Holiness in which to seek refuge at all times both in this and future lives."
The event capped the Dalai Lama's six-day visit to the area. He gave public lectures and teachings and visited the Deer Park Buddhist Center just outside the city, the only full-scale Buddhist monastery and teaching center in the Midwest.
It was the Dalai Lama's seventh visit to the area in the past 30 years. He has close ties to Madison because an associate, prominent Buddhist monk Geshe Sopa, moved here in the 1960s to teach at University of Wisconsin-Madison and later founded Deer Park.