'He Regrets': Dalai Lama Apologises to Boy's Family Over Viral 'Kissing' Video

In the viral video, the Tibetan spiritual leader can be seen pointing to his mouth and sticking his tongue out.

3 min read
Hindi Female

A day after a video showing the Dalai Lama allegedly 'kissing' a boy on his lips went viral, the Tibetan spiritual leader on Monday, 10 April, has apologised to the boy and his family.

“A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug. His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused," the statement said.


What Happened?

The incident took place on 1 March at an event organised at the Dalai Lama temple in McLeodganj, a suburb of Himachal Pradesh's Dharamshala, for M3M Foundation.

As part of the event, Dalai Lama interacted with more than 100 students and officials of M3M Foundation, the philanthropic arm of M3M Group, and gave them tips on how to be successful in life, according to a press release issued by the foundation.

During the event, a minor boy is seen asking Dalai Lama if he can give him a hug. The video then shows the Dalai Lama 'kissing the child on his lips' as the latter leaned in to pay his respects.

After a few seconds, the Tibetan spiritual leader can be seen pointing to his mouth and sticking his tongue out. According to several handles on social media, he asked the child to – "suck his tongue."


Is 'Sticking Out Tongue' a Tibetan Custom?

While many on Twitter pointed out that sticking your tongue at someone is a traditional form of greeting or sign of respect, several others expressed how uncomfortable they were with the gesture – and sought an explanation from the Dalai Lama.

Anjashi Sarkar, who is currently pursuing her PhD on Tibetans and Buddhism, from Delhi University, explained:

"Tibetan King, Lang Darma, who was ruling around 9th Century, was known for his cruelty, had a black tongue. As Buddhists, Tibetans feared that this King could be reincarnated. Therefore, they started greeting one another by sticking out their tongues. This is to demonstrate that they are nor guilty of evil deeds."

"Apart from it being a greeting, sticking out tongue is used to show agreement, and over the past few years this gesture has evolved into a sign of respect," Sarkar added.

Another Buddhist scholar, at a leading central university, pointed that while sticking the tongue out is a custom, it is not so to ask someone else to 'suck the tongue', as has been alleged, after the video clip has gone viral on social media.

"There are two things that can be contended in the video. First, the child kisses him on the cheek, and the Tibetan could have returned the same. Instead, he kisses him on his lips. The second, I am not sure if he is asking the child to 'stick out his tongue' or 'suck his tongue'. Because if he is saying 'suck my tongue' – that is ideally not a custom or tradition."

But Can 'Custom' Justify Disturbing Action?

At least Tibetan-origin Indians, whom The Quint spoke to, confirmed that asking someone to "suck their tongue" was not a part of their tradition.

"I am not going to lie, I will be uncomfortable if this happened to me or if I saw this happening to anyone else. I feel it should be treated the same way whether it is His Holiness Dalai Lama or anyone else," Tsephel, who goes by just one name, told The Quint.

The video clip of the incident, that was first shared on Twitter, has over one million views – with thousands of tweets pointing out that this disturbing action was "not okay."

"Nothing makes this okay...Even if this was all innocent in his mind and intentions..." a Twitter user wrote, hours after the incident.

Several others pointed the trauma and pain the minor child may have to go through, following the incident.

In the viral video, the Tibetan spiritual leader can be seen pointing to his mouth and sticking his tongue out.
In the viral video, the Tibetan spiritual leader can be seen pointing to his mouth and sticking his tongue out.

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Topics:  The Dalai Lama 

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