BEIJING, March 1 (Xinhua) -- The 11th Panchen Lama extended his greetings to all Tibetans at home and abroad on Saturday, the eve of the Tibetan New Year.
"On the occasion of the Tibetan New Year of Wood Horse, the occasion of beginning and renewal, I would like to extend new year greetings to all Tibetan people at home and abroad," he said.
"I wish you all a healthy and peaceful life. May all your good wishes come true. Tashi Delek," he said, using a Tibetan phrase to extend good luck and best wishes.
The Tibetan New Year, which falls on Sunday this year according to the Tibetan calendar, is the most important festival for Tibetans. The festival season will last for 15 days.
The Panchen Lama, one of the two most revered living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism, delivered the greetings ahead of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, which is scheduled to open on Monday.
The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, was elected a member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee last year.
With the secular name Gyaincain Norbu, he was born in February 1990 in Lhari County, in northern Tibet's Nagqu Prefecture.
He was approved by the central government as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995 after a lot-drawing ceremony among three candidates in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. He was elected vice president of the Buddhist Association of China in 2010.
Over the past years, the 11th Panchen Lama has performed religious rituals, including sutra interpretations and giving blessings, for thousands of Tibetan Buddhists at monasteries in the country.
He held a prayer meeting at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing last year for victims and survivors of a devastating earthquake that hit southwest China's Sichuan Province and killed around 200.
The living Buddha's latest new year greetings were warmly responded.
"I am very glad and happy to receive the new year greetings from him," said Tsering Dondrup, a 70-year-old Lhasa resident. "I wish him a healthy body and all the best."
Master Xue Cheng, also vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, said that the 11th Panchen Lama's new year greetings reflected the traditional good wishes of the Tibetan people.
"He has become more mature and insightful," said Liu Huaiyuan, vice president of the Chinese Taoist Association. "He is the best one to inherit and pass on the Tibetan culture."