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Saturday, June 19, 1999 Published at 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK

Boy leader's return to Tibet

Monks lined up to be blessed by the 11th Panchen

On Friday the nine-year-old boy approved by the Chinese Government as the 11th Panchen Lama - the second-highest spiritual leader in Tibet - returned to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, for the first time since his designation in 1995. His selection was intended to overrule that of another candidate, chosen by Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The following is an edited version of a report by China's Xinhua news agency describing in glowing terms the Panchen's visit to the Jokhang Temple:

[ image: The young boy has been given official approval as the Panchen's successor]
The young boy has been given official approval as the Panchen's successor
"At dawn, drizzle brought a tranquil and auspicious atmosphere to the sacred place on the plateau. The magnificent and sacred Jokhang Temple at the centre of Lhasa City was brightly lit," said Xinhua.

"Thick incense smoke was rising up, trumpets were being blown, and streamers were fluttering" at the temple.

Both elderly and younger monks were keen to stress that "the succession of the 11th Panchen entirely conformed to historical conventions and Buddhist practices", the agency said.

"It gave expression to the consistent ethnic and religious policies of the state and conformed to our wish.

'Positive influence'

[ image: Xinhua says ceremonies continued according to historical traditions]
Xinhua says ceremonies continued according to historical traditions
"We firmly believe the 11th Panchen will certainly produce a positive and far-reaching influence on the normal religious life of the Tibetan Buddhist circles and to the stability and development of Tibet," the monks were reported as saying.

The Panchen Lama himself arrived by car and "looked vigorous and solemn and his eyes blazed like torches and showed great piety for the sacred place" where, four years ago, he was confirmed as the 11th Lama.

Watch pictures from Chinese television of the Panchen Lama's return to Lhasa
There he met 81-year-old monk Bomi Zambaluozhub, his appointed prayer master.

In the past decade, the old monk had taken on more than 200 disciples but Xinhua says, the 11th Panchen was "the most brilliant and diligent" .

Prayers for unity

[ image: The Panchen's return was greeted with traditional Tibetan horns]
The Panchen's return was greeted with traditional Tibetan horns
"Amid drumbeats and music, the 11th Panchen kow-towed to the statue of Sakyamuni and respectfully presented him an offering. He led the lamas [monks] in reading prayers and prayed for bumper harvests, the prosperity of the country, the peace of the people, ethnic unity, and world peace," Xinhua reported.

Afterwards, the young Panchen sat on a throne and gave blessings to the temple monks by touching their heads. One elderly monk called the succession of the 11th Panchen "a great event of Buddhism we had longed for".

'Auspicious atmosphere'

[ image: No reference was made to the Dalai Lama's nominated successor]
No reference was made to the Dalai Lama's nominated successor
"At present, Tibet's economy is developing and its society is stable. An auspicious atmosphere has prevailed," he is quoted as saying.

"Under the leadership of the 11th Panchen, the spirit of loving the country and the religion and of protecting the country and benefiting the people of the Tibetan Buddhist circles will certainly be carried forward. I feel very happy."

The Panchen Lama then made his way out of the temple to a waiting crowd outside where, the report concluded, "the trumpets and cheers of the crowd were heard far and wide."

Source: Xinhua news agency domestic service, Beijing, in Chinese 18 June 99

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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