09:05 GMT +318 November 2019
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    Gyaltsen Norbu

    China's Lama Initiates Buddhist Ritual in Tibet for First Time in 50 Years

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    An important Buddhist rite, the Kalachakra, began in TIbet on Thursday, for the first time since it happened 50 years ago.

    The 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama, formally started the tantric Kalachakra ceremony Thursday morning. The four-day event takes place at the New Palace of the Panchen Lama in Xigaze, a city within China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

    The Kalachakra, which means the "wheel of time," includes a series of tantric teachings and initiations given by gurus to help Buddhists through the cycle of life.

    A throne, several meters high and covered in yellow silk, was placed on a new 200-square-meter platform in the southern part of the palace. A traditional Tibetan ribbon has been put up on both sides of the throne to symbolize good fortune.

    Public instruction and initiations have been scheduled for every afternoon. About 50,000 monks, nuns, gurus and devotees were expected to attend the Kalachakra.

    In 1995, Gyaltsen Norbu's name was selected from a golden urn, sealing his fate as a Lama. Although officially atheist, the Chinese government recognized him as the 11th Panchen Lama in a drive to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans, after rejecting the 6-year-old boy that was chosen by the Dalai Lama who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese forces.

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