Christchurch, New Zealand, 8 June 2011 (TVNZ) - The power of prayer was felt in Christchurch today as thousands of people turned out for a service with the Dalai Lama.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama receives a gift from two young students during the public service in Christchurch, New Zealand on June 8, 2011, for victims of February's earthquake that devastated the city. Photo/Martin Hunter/Getty Images|
"I want to share some of your sadness," he told the crowd of more than 4000.
The Dalai Lama requested private meetings with people who lost loved ones in the February earthquake and at the start of the prayer meeting spoke briefly to each of the bereaved families.
He also spent time with injured people and emergency staff at Christchurch Hospital.
The only survivor of the Number 3 bus said it was a "never in a lifetime" occasion.
"He was wonderful - lovely, quite warm," Ann Bower said.
And Nick Walls, a victim of the PGC building collapse, also said it was an amazing experience to meet him, describing the Dalai Lama as "very kind and comforting".
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Christchurch Hospital on June 8, 2011, with victims of the February's earthquake.|
"He's a very wise man, he's got a lot to teach us all," she said.
Families of the quake victims were given a special place to sit up the front at the service and they were joined by thousands of others, who were united in speaking of the Dalai Lama's inspiration and peace.
Emma Woods, the mother of four-year-old Nayan who was struck and killed last year by an out of control car, also attended.
His messages included urging the people to "build new town, new city, new home, even more happier new town".
The 75-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader requested the visit ahead of a 10-day tour of Australia.
He has visited Christchurch twice before, in 1992 and 1996, and said he has fond memories and a special warmth for the city. On both his previous visits he spoke at the now ruined Christchurch Cathedral.
"Now we must look forward. Instead of sad, sad, look forward and overcome," he said.