Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, the 11th Panchen Lama, one of the two most revered "living Buddhas" in Tibetan Buddhism, attends the 20th anniversary of his enthronement in Tashilhunpo Monastery in Xigaze, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Dec. 8, 2015. (Xinhua/Chogo)
XIGAZE, Tibet, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Tibet on Tuesday commemorated the 20th anniversary of the enthronement of the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, a spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the Panchen Lama's residence in the city of Xigaze, basked in glory Tuesday morning as more than 1,500 Tibetan Buddhists and local people attended a ceremony that went on for more than three hours.
The Panchen Lama arrived in the monastery, 270 kilometers from the regional capital Lhasa, at 10 a.m. with attendant monks holding a yellow parasol over for him and blowing trumpets.
The Panchen Lama is the highest ranking lama after the Dalai in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, the most influential of the four main schools.
The Panchen Lama recalled some of his experiences and thanked the government and senior monks for their help and care.
He called for Tibetan Buddhists to act with compassion and promote Buddhism that adapts to the times.
Gifts were presented by representatives from lamaseries, ranging from symbolic items like Buddha figurines, sutras and the holy pagoda to silk and satin.
The ceremony featured a heated debate between two high monks, a traditional royal dance by 7 young monks and a sutra chanting praying for peace and prosperity.
"The ceremony is not only a celebration of the Gelug school and the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, but also for the whole of Tibetan Buddhism," said Palden Donyo, a senior monk of the Sakya school.
Officials from the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, State Administration for Religious Affairs and the Tibet regional government took part in the ceremony.
Sita, vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, praised the Panchen Lama's achievements and hoped he would carry on the legacy of his predecessors and actively engage in incorporating Tibetan Buddhism into socialist society under the Buddhist principles of equality and compassion among all beings.
Gyaincain Norbu, born on February 13, 1990 in Lhari county, Nagqu prefecture in northern Tibet, was enthroned as the 11th Panchen Lama on Dec. 8, 1995 after a traditional lot-drawing ceremony in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
The Panchen Lama currently serves as vice president of the Buddhist Association of China and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, the country's top political advisory body.
LIVING BUDDHA RESPECTED BY ALL
Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a senior lama, or rinpoche (living Buddha), is reincarnated in the body of a child upon his death.
The 11th Panchen Lama was approved by the central government in November 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, after the three candidates drew lots in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
In minds of Tibetans, a blessing from the Panchen Lama can bring good fortune. Ahead of the ceremony, the Panchen visited settlements in the suburbs of Xigaze, bringing flour, rice and tea for 1,800 residents affected in the severe earthquake in April that hit Nepal and southwest Tibet.
"I am really happy and satisfied," said Drolma, 82, in wheelchair after being touched on the head by the Lama.
The Lama has given blessing touches on the heads to over 1.5 million Tibetan Buddhism followers.
With senior monks as mentors, the Panchen has made great achievements for Tibetan Buddhism. He taught sutras to the public for the first time in June 2010 at the age of 20 at the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, teaching 800 monks and 600 believers doctrines of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Geluk School.
On March 28, 2009, he unexpectedly delivered a speech in English at the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum in Wuxi City of eastern Jiangsu Province, winning applause and appreciation.
"It is a blessing for Tibetan Buddhism that the Panchen Lama is growing up healthy and has increasing insights on Buddhism," said Rinpoche Zhukang Tubdankezhub, head of the Tibet Buddhism Academy.
Besides promoting Buddhism, the Panchen Lama has made his own contribution to the development of Tibet through his social position.
He has had a consultative role in Chinese politics since February 2010 when he was elected to the CPPCC, then the youngest member of the country's top political advisory body.
He made a proposal in March for strengthening the cultivation of Buddhism talent to better inherit the tradition, protect heritage and provide religious services to the Tibetan people.
The Panchen Lama said he will work hard to help develop Tibet and lift its people out of poverty, after he was elected chairman of the Tibet Development Fund, a non-governmental, non-profit organization, on Nov. 28.
The Tibet Development Fund, set up in 1987, has raised 106 million yuan (16.6 million U.S. dollars) for 387 projects in Tibet since 2006.