Dalai Lama Attends Religious Ceremonies on Tibetan New Year བོད་སྐད།

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama presided over religious ceremonies at the main Buddhist temple in Dharamshala. Marking Losar or the "Year 2137 of the Iron-Tiger" of Tibetan calender.

Dalai Lama offered greetings to Tibetans living inside and outside Tibet and people of the Himalayan region who share same culture and religion as Tibetans. His Holiness extended his good wishes and gratitude to the international community for taking interest in and supporting the just cause of Tibetans.

"Despite facing great problems in Tibet for many years, the Tibetan people living inside have shown indomitable courage and sincerity in standing up to the situation," said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama said "Tibetans in living in many parts of Tibet are marking the year as a year of remembrance of Tibetan people's suffering," adding that "they refrain from festivities during the Losar." With such sentiments of our brethren in Tibet, His Holiness advised Tibetans to offer prayers by engaging in religious ceremonies and eschew festive celebrations."

His Holiness "reminds Tibetans living in the free world, not to forget the critical situation in Tibet". "The Tibetans in exile must keep up their sincerity and courage like their brethren in Tibet," His Holiness added.

Speaking of education, Dalai Lama "urged Tibetans, Mongolians and the people of Himalayan region to put more efforts in education, and to excel in the study of Tibetan Buddhism". His Holiness "underlined the study of Tibet's unique secular education, particularly the philosophy of religion".

The Dalai Lama made the appeal Sunday as he led a prayer session at a Buddhist temple in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, where he lives in exile.

He said Tibetans inside Tibet will not be celebrating the Lunar New Year for a second consecutive year and he urged exiled Tibetans to do the same. The holiday began Sunday.

Tibetans in exile called off the 2009 festivities to protest a Chinese government crackdown on a Tibetan uprising that erupted in March 2008 against Beijing's rule.

The Dalai Lama is due to meet U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday. China has urged Mr. Obama to cancel the meeting -- a demand Washington has rejected.

China views the Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking Tibetan independence but the exiled spiritual leader says he seeks only greater autonomy for Tibet within China.

A U.S. advocacy group says it will present the Dalai Lama with an award in Washington for displaying a commitment to democracy and human dignity. The National Endowment for Democracy says the Dalai Lama will receive its Democracy Service Medal in a Friday ceremony.

The group says the Tibetan spiritual leader will address an audience of 500 people in his only public appearance during the Washington visit.

The Dalai Lama last visited the United States in October. Mr. Obama decided not to meet him until after making a November trip to China.

The head of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, says his organization is honoring the Dalai Lama for efforts to create a democratic government-in-exile for Tibet.

The National Endowment for Democracy is a private, grant-making organization that works to strengthen democratic institutions around the world.

Some information for this report provided by TibetNet and AP.