Bishop's Stortford's mayor helps UK's Tibetans celebrate Dalai Lama's birthday
Bishop's Stortford's mayor Cllr Norma Symonds showed solidarity with the people of Tibet as they celebrated the 84th birthday of their exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, on Saturday.
She joined members of the Tibetan Community UK for a traditional gathering in London's Camden and gave a speech.
Cllr Symonds was a guest of Sonam Faadi, the UK representative of the Buddhist spiritual leader.
His holiness is believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are inspired by the wish to attain complete enlightenment and have vowed to be reborn in the world to help all living beings.
The Dalai Lama marked his 84th year in India, in the northern hill town of Dharamsala. He fled there 60 years ago when an uprising against Chinese rule failed.
Cllr Symonds said she had been a supporter of the Tibetan community for some time after living next door to an exiled family. She said there were four Tibetan families in the town and another in Dunmow.
At the evening reception, heralded by a blast on the Tibetan long trumpet or horn used in religious ceremonies, she enjoyed a sitdown meal featuring a lamb main course and curry before a display of traditional dancing in costume and a performance of the national anthem.
Cllr Symonds, a committed Christian who invited Buddhist, Muslim and Jewish friends to the church service which marked the start of her year in office, said: "The Tibetan people are so kind and it was really humbling to be amongst them.
"The Tibetans who live here are not allowed back into their own country."