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Panchen Lama Holds Buddhist Services in Southern Tibet

The 11th Panchen Lama was welcomed on Saturday by ten thousand followers to Tibet's Baiqoi Monastery where he held a Buddhist ritual.

Built in the early 15th century, the monastery, located in Gyangze County in southern Tibet, is one of the few holy places in Tibet to embrace all sects of Tibetan Buddhism.

Gyaincain Norbu, who is studying Buddhist scriptures in Xigaze, was hailed by about 10,000 followers when he arrived at the county on Saturday.

During the ritual, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism prayed for the monks at the Baiqoi Monastery and also offered them alms.

"I'm glad to be here, but I'm much more glad to see that you live a peaceful, happy life," he said.

After lunch, he gave touch-head blessings to several thousand local Tibetans.

The 17-year-old Panchen Lama also held brief Buddhist services at another monastery in Gyangze and Nai'nying Monastery in Kangma County. Traveling from place to place, he stopped his car many times to bless his followers.

Gyaincain Norbu was approved by the central government as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in November 1995 after a lot drawing ceremony among three candidates in the Jokhang Temple in Tibet's regional capital of Lhasa.

Drawing lots from a golden urn to decide the final choice of the reincarnation of a high lama has long been a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism.

The young lama studies Buddhism in Beijing and frequently visits Tibet and other Tibetan ethnic areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces to hold religious rituals.

When he visited Nagqu in the north of the Tibet Autonomous Region in August, more than 20,000 believers, mostly herdsmen, came to receive a blessing from the living Buddha, who spent a day and a half in their midst.

Since his ordination, the living buddha has blessed about 300,000 people.

(Xinhua News Agency September 25, 2006)

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