Free meals to mark Dalai Lama’s birthday

Staff Report

Published: 06-29-2023 1:05 PM

AMHERST — The Regional Tibetan Association of Massachusetts will celebrate the 88th birthday of the 14th Dalai Lama over the next week by sponsoring free meals for people in need locally.

Millions of people, including Tibetans in diaspora, celebrate the day by engaging in different charitable work around the world. The Amherst-based Regional Tibetan Association will hand out free hot meals at four locations serving approximately 600-700 people in need. The locations include:

■Saturday, July 1, at Not Bread Alone in Amherst at 12 p.m.

■Sunday, July 2, at Cathedral in the Night in Northampton at 4:45 p.m.

■Sunday July 2, at Most Holy Redeemer Church in Hadley at 12 p.m.

■Thursday, July 6, at Amherst Survival Center at 12:45 p.m.

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Additionally, the association is hosting a reception at Most Holy Redeemer Church in Hadley on Thursday, July 6, at 10 a.m. featuring U.S. Jim McGovern, state Reps. Lindsay Sabadosa and Daniel Carey, Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChappelle, Amherst Town Council members Kristen Elechko, the western Massachusetts director for Gov. Maura Healey, Tibetan Parliamentarian Thondup Tsering and others.

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935, to a farming family in a small village called Takser, Amdo in northeastern part of Tibet.

At 2, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, Thupten Gyaltso. He started his monastic education at 6 and completed his Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to doctorate degree in Buddhist philosophy, logic, fine arts, Sanskrit grammar and medicine at the age of 23.

He assumed political responsibilities of Tibet in 1950 when he was 16 years old. After many failed bilateral talks with Chinese leaders and a brutal suppression of Tibetan National uprising in 1959, he escaped to India followed by 80,000 Tibetan migrants.

In India, he formed the Central Tibetan Administration with democratic system of governance constituting three pillars such as Legislature, Judiciary and Executive body. He initiated the process of preserving Tibetan language, culture and religion that is constantly under the threat of extinction.

Over the years he was invited to meet with heads of states around the world except for China. He was also a recipient of many awards and accolades including Nobel Peace Prize, Congressional Gold Medal and Templeton Awards.