Gangtok, Sikkim, India – This morning His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew from Delhi to Bagdogra in West Bengal en route to Sikkim. He was received at the airport by the Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Sikkim Government, Ven Sonam Lama. From Bagdogra he flew to Gangtok by helicopter. He was welcomed on arrival at the Libing Helipad by Shri Prem Singh Tamang, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim, the Chief Secretary, Shri Vijay Bhushan Pathak, the Director General of Police, Shri Amrendra Kumar Singh, and several senior ministers and officials, as well as Tibetan Representatives from Gangtok, Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting Sikkim Chief Minister Shri Prem Singh Tamang on his arrival in Gangtok, Sikkim, India on December 11, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
As His Holiness drove away from the helipad, the road was lined by groups of monks from almost a dozen local monasteries. Many of them wore their ceremonial hats and played cymbals, drums and horns in greeting. Out on the main road a group of Tashi Shölpa dancers danced in welcome, while local people, Sikkimese and Tibetans, lined the street. They had smiles on their faces and, in their hands folded in homage they offered white or yellow silk scarves, flowers and incense by way of greeting. Groups of Tibetan women danced and sang with joy. Another group followed a cheerleader exuberantly crying out, “Long live, the Dalai Lama”.
Members of the local community lining the streets to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he drives to his hotel in Gangtok, Sikkim, India on December 11, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
Outside the door to the hotel, members of the Sikkim Police Guard presented arms and His Holiness took the salute. At the door, he was offered a traditional ‘Chema changphu’ by way of greeting. Just inside the lobby he was welcomed by remaining ministers and senior officials of the Sikkim Government. At the door to his suite, His Holiness was greeted by his elder brother, Gyalo Thondup. Members of the Chief Minister’s family then came to pay their respects.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama offering a Buddha statue to the Governor of Sikkim H.E. Lakshman Prasad Achararya during their meeting in Gangtok, Sikkim, India on December 11, 2023. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
Immediately after lunch, the Governor of Sikkim, H.E. Lakshman Prasad Acharya, paid His Holiness a courtesy call.