Tibet commemorated the enthronement anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama on Thursday, ten years after Gyaincain Norbu became the highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism at the age of six.
Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the Panchen Lama's residence in Xigaze, 270 kilometers from the regional capital Lhasa, welcomed more than 1,300 Tibetan Buddhists for a grand celebration ceremony that went on for three hours.
"Ten years ago I was enthroned as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama," the 11th Panchen Lama told the crowd, "and I've been given very good living conditions and favorable chances to learn... I owe my progress today to my dear teachers, particularly Jamyang Gyamco, as well as the broad masses of Tibetan Buddhists and people from across the country who have always supported me."
Gyaincain Norbu has presided over many religious ceremonies in Tibet as well as Tibetan communities in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces, and blessed nearly 300,000 Tibetan Buddhists.
"I will carry forward the glorious traditions my predecessors have left and be a good living Buddha who loves his motherland, his religion and serves his country and its people," he said at the end of his brief speech. "With all my heart, I pray for peace forever in the world and prosperity of our motherland."
Gifts were presented by representatives from 21 Tibetan lamaseries, ranging from Buddha figurines, sutras and the holy pagoda to silk and satin.
The commemoration ceremony also featured a debate among four eloquent high monks, and sutra chanting for peace and prosperity and to extol Zong Kaba, founder of the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Gyaincain Norbu, born on February 13, 1990 in Lhari county of Nagqu prefecture in northern Tibet, was approved by the central government in November 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, after a lot drawing ceremony among three candidates in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. He was enthroned as the 11th Panchen Lama on December 8, 1995.
Drawing lots from a gold urn to decide on the final choice of the reincarnation of a high lama is a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism. Gaining the approval from the central government on the choice began in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).