OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 12:18 PM – Monday, April 10, 2023
The Dalai Lama, a spiritual figure in Tibet, has expressed regret on Monday following backlash to a video showing him kissing a child on the lips.
The 87-year-old leader expressed his regret in a statement on his official website, saying that he wanted 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.”
The incident happened in February during a gathering held by the M3M Foundation at Tsuglakhang temple, the exiled leader’s temple in Dharamsala, India. The M3M Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Indian real estate company M3M Group, based in Dharamshala.
The Dalai Lama had been answering questions from the audience when the child requested to give him a hug.
In the video, the child was invited by the Dalai Lama to come up to the platform where he was sitting. The leader then pointed to his cheek, and the child kissed him before giving him a hug.
The Dalai Lama then extended his tongue out and invited the kid to kiss him on the lips. As the youngster sticks out his own tongue and leans in, the Dalai Lama can be heard saying, “And suck my tongue,” drawing hilarity from the audience.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement said.
His actions were criticized as inappropriate, disrespectful, and frightening by social media users when the video went viral.
The boy’s identity remains a mystery.
Famous Delhi-based child rights organization Haq: Center for Child Rights issued a statement to the press condemning “all forms of child abuse” in response to what was caught on tape.
The statement said, “Some news refers to Tibetan culture about showing tongue, but this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable.”
The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is revered as the best-known living Buddhist figure in the world.
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