The Dalai Lama is the leader of the Tibetan Buddhism Gelug sect religious officials. He is also the director of the Tibetan Government since he administers a large portion of the Tibetan territory. Religion and politics in one—that’s the role of the Dalai Lama. Like all the presidents and all the religious leaders, the Dalai Lama is highly respected.
However, you don’t just greet him with a “hi” or “hello.” Even meeting the Dalai Lama can be tricky. Here are some ways you can do to meet His Holiness:
Visit the Dalai Lama. His Holiness is residing in a small mountain village located in the northern India. The place is called Dharamsala. Although this is his residence, it’s very rare that you’ll find the Dalai Lama here. The spiritual leader is frequently visiting other places. So it’s best you know his schedule before you go and visit the Dalai Lama.
Go to his public appearances. Visit the Tibetan Welfare Office located at the Upper Dharamsala. There, you can ask about the schedule of Dalai Lama’s public appearances. Keep an ear for the public audience, too. Most of the time, a notice for a scheduled public audience is made a day before. It’s not publicly announced, too. So most probably, you can’t get the news from the media. Instead, you will get updates through the word of mouth.
Send a letter for private audience. Bring or send a written request to the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama if there is no scheduled public audience. However, you have a very little chance to be granted a private audience.
Once you get the chance of meeting the Dalai Lama, then you’ll have the chance to greet His Holiness. Here are the things you should keep in mind when greeting the Dalai Lama:
- Bring a white scarf for blessing. You can buy a scarf or two on your way to the Dalai Lama’s residence. The Dalai Lama will bless the scarf when he is greeting you. Besides a scarf, you can also bring other items for blessing like statues and prayer beads. In some occasions, though, you’ll have to leave the items on a table and pick them after the blessing.
- Be early. Arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled audience. You’ll most likely wait in a long line and experience tight security. So, it is not very ideal to bring with you a camera or a deadly weapon.
- Follow instructions. Before the Dalai Lama arrives, the security will give you instructions. Be aware of the dos and don’ts.
- It will be brief. Your meeting with the Dalai Lama will be very brief. Better prepare your scarf and yourself for this brief encounter.
- Proper gestures. When you are greeting the Dalai Lama, you should bow your head and never make eye contacts. For Tibetans, eye contact is disrespect for their leader.
- Get the red cord. After the meeting, you will receive a red cord thread from the Dalai Lama’s assistants. You can wear this as a remembrance and maybe a proof that you have met and greeted the Dalai Lama.
It’s not all the time that you meet an important person like the Dalai Lama. Knowing how to act and greet His Holiness properly will make this experience smooth and more memorable.