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11th Panchen Lama touches head for 20,000 religious believers
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16:56, July 31, 2009

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The 11th Panchen Lama carried out a head-touching ceremony this week to bless nearly 20,000 Buddhist adherents.

The ritual was held in the New Palace in Xigaze on Wednesday and Thursday. It was the first large scale head-touching occasion in Tibet since the region was rocked by the March 14 riot last year.

Head touching is a ceremony carried out by a living Buddha to bless believers who consider that it will help them avoid disasters.

"My wish is finally fulfilled," said 74-year-old Nyima Wangla, the first to be touched after coming all the way for the blessing from a village in Xigaze. With those words, he tied a woven Gordian knot given to him by the Panchen Lama to his neck.

At the ceremonies, people holding traditional Tibetan scarves, khata, moved in a queue before 19-year-old Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, one of the two most senior living Buddhas in the Tibetan religion.

Some believers brought newly-born children which they asked the Panchen Lama to name, a duty he fulfilled with a smile on his face.

Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu 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 Lhasa.

He is gaining increasing popularity in his role, especially after delivering an English speech at the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum in Wuxi City in east China's Jiangsu Province in March.


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