Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Days after Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was called out on social media for 'kissing' a young boy on camera, hundreds of his supporters rallied for him, demanding an apology from the media for 'misinterpreting' the gesture.
Slogans and placards, which read 'Media, Stop the Misinterpretation', 'Stop Defaming Dalai Lama', 'We Support His Holiness', were seen at the rally in Darjeeling on 16 April, where men, women, and children marched in support of their spiritual guru wearing black.
On the same day, in Gangtok, six Tibetan associations held a 'peace solidarity prayer' in support of Dalai Lama, condemning the "media houses and media influencers who have misinterpreted the news and misguided innocent public."
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang also backed Dalai Lama in a tweet, saying:
"It is disheartening to witness baseless accusations leveled against H.H the 14th Dalai Lama, a global spiritual figure and a messenger of peace. The entire Sikkimese people stand in solidarity with H.H the 14th Dalai Lama and sincerely appeal to everyone to uphold his values and refrain from spreading rhetoric to malign his image."
On 13 April, a rally was held by the Monpa people (Tibetan Buddhist tribe) in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang, stating that the social media trolling of their spiritual leader hurt their sentiments.
In Ladakh too, a march was jointly taken out by the Ladakh Buddhist Association and the Tibetan community in 15 April. The protesters claimed the video was a conspiracy to defame Dalai Lama.
The controversial video that went viral last week showed Dalai Lama 'kissing' a child on his lips and allegedly asking him to 'suck his tongue' at an event on 1 March. Many on social media termed the incident "disturbing" and "disgusting."
After widespread outrage, Dalai Lama put out a statement apologising to the boy's 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 apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused."Statement by Dalai Lama
The statement added, "His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. he regrets the incident."