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The Dalai Lama Celebrates 80th Birthday Bash with Patti Smith at Glastonbury

By Minette (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Minette (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Legendary Patti Smith led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama will turn 80 on July 6, and last weekend he was celebrated at a rather unusual place:  The Glastonbury music festival in Glastonbury, England, the Huffington Post reported.

He joined legendary American singer, songwriter, and poet Patti Smith on stage.  Smith led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to the exiled Tibetan leader.  She also presented him with a birthday cake.

The Dalai Lama, whose given name is Tenzin Gyatso, praised Smith as “very beautiful, very forceful,” and the festival as a “festival of people, not politicians and governments.”

Installed as the Dalai Lama in 1940, he has led the Tibetan Government in exile since 1959.  At that time, he left the Lhasa region in China to seek asylum in northern India.  He leads from their temporary headquarters in Dharmasala (

As might be expected, the Chinese government condemned the Glastonbury Festival for affording the Dalai Lama a platform and mouthpiece for what they consider to be his “anti-China separatist activities.”

The current and 14th Dalai Lama was officially enthroned in 1950 and turned heads within the Tibetan community in the 1970s when he claimed that his position had most likely outlasted its usefulness (it is designed to benefit others) and that he would be the last Dalai Lama. 

Since then there has been disagreement between the Chinese government and both the representatives of the Dalai Lama and his followers as to the future of the position.  The government says only they can declare the 15th person to hold the post of Dalai Lama, while his followers say that this decision cannot be forced upon them.  They maintain that upon his death, followers from within the Tibetan community will decide the future of their leadership. 


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