Fast, prayers mark Tibetan New Year festival

 Thousands of Tibetan assembled in  Himachal Pradesh's Dharamshala town, on the first day of the sacred Losar New Year festival on wednesday, offered prayers for peace and ending of human rights violations against Tibetans in China.

Besides the Nobel laureate Dalai Lama who presided over the special prayers, Officials of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and members of parliament-in-exile participated in daylong solidarity fast.

Special prayers were held in the morning at the hilltop Tsuglagkhang temple close to the official palace of the Dalai Lama at McLeodganj, to highlight the plight of people of Tibet. The Nobel laureate Dalai Lama presided over the special prayers.

According to the Tibetan lunar calendar, Losar is the first day of the New Year and is traditionally celebrated by Tibetans in a big way.

This year, the parliament-in-exile has urged Tibetans living in exile not to celebrate Losar following the continuing wave of self-immolations in Tibet, to press for their demand for the Dalai Lama's return home from exile and freedom in Tibet.

Parliament Speaker Penpa Tsering making the official statement ahead of the solidarity fast said: "Recently, a special delegation of the parliament travelled to New Delhi to brief embassies of different countries about the fast deteriorating conditions in Tibet. We also wrote an open letter to the Chinese president".

He said parliament is appealing to the Chinese authorities to withdraw the large reinforcement of military to reduce tensions and the numbers of political prisoners and take measures to give due consideration to the aspirations of the Tibetan people.

"Resume dialogue with the Tibetans with the commitment and conviction to seek a lasting solution to the issue of Tibet and peace and stability in the whole geo-strategic region," he said.

Meanwhile, a sombre mood is prevailing over the entire locality of McLeodganj, which is known for its Tibetan artefacts and traditional recipes like Tibetan dumplings.
The streets are lined with banners and posters depicting photographs of those who have sacrificed their lives in Tibet. In the evening, a candlelight vigil led by members of the CTA was taken out in the town.India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.

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