The Dalai Lama has issued an apology following the emergence of a video that showed him kissing a young boy on the lips at a public event in India earlier this year. The clip, which is going viral on social media, shows the spiritual leader asking the child to ‘suck his tongue.’
The Dalai Lama’s office posted an apology statement on Twitter on Monday, stating that the 87 year old Tibetan spiritual leader was lighthearted in his actions. Read on to know more about the development.
Dalai Lama Apologizes for Asking Young Boy to ‘Suck His Tongue’
The video in question was taken in the hilly town of Dharamshala in India, where the Dalai Lama spoke briefly to a boy before pulling him closer for a kiss on his lips. He then outstretched his tongue and told the kid, ‘suck my tongue.’ Meanwhile, chuckles were heard from the crowd as the boy pressed his forehead against the Dalai Lama.
The apology posted by the Dalai Lama’s office makes no reference to the kiss or the tongue. However, the statement claimed that the boy, who has not been identified, had asked the Buddhist leader for a hug. “A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug,” reads the statement.
— Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) April 10, 2023
“His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused. His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident,” it reads further.
Child Rights Group Denounces Dalai Lama’s Actions
As per the BBC, sticking out the tongue is seen as a greeting in Tibet. However, HAQ: Center for Child Rights, a group based in Delhi, has labeled Dalai Lama’s actions as ‘child abuse.’ “Some news refers to Tibetan culture about showing tongue, but this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable,” reads a statement by the group.
The Dalai Lama, whose real name is Tenzin Gyatso, is the principal spiritual leader of the “Yellow Hat” school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered to be the reincarnation of his 13 predecessors by millions of followers. He has been living in India since 1959, after a failed Tibetan uprising against the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama currently resides in Dharamshala, where he established a Tibetan government-in-exile.
The Dalai Lama was Criticized for Comments in 2019 as well
This is not the first time that the spiritual leader’s actions have sparked controversy. In 2019, he said in an interview that if a female Dalai Lama has to succeed him, ‘she should be more attractive.’ His office later apologized, citing that he believes in gender equality and opposes the objectification of women.
A year earlier, while talking about African refugees, he suggested that ‘Europe should be for Europeans only,’ and once again drew widespread criticism. “The whole Europe (will) eventually become Muslim country? Impossible. Or African country? Also impossible,” he said at the time.
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