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Last updated: February 1, 2003

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Dalai Lama closes Buddhist festival with appeal for peace
BODHGAYA, India, Jan 21 (AFP) - Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has closed a Buddhist ceremony attended by 200,000 devotees with an appeal for peace with China.
As the 67-year-old was closing a Kalchakra, a spiritual exercise, late Monday, he urged Tibetan exiles to root their movement in the teachings of the Buddha.
"Obligation towards your motherland comes first, and this duty must be fulfilled adhering to the ways shown by Lord Buddha," said the Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel peace prize for his non-violent opposition to Beijing's half-century occupation of Tibet.
The exercise, which began on January 9, was to bring peace through a rigorous series of tantric initiations.
At the ceremony, some Buddhist groups, however, accused him of either being too soft on China or inconsiderate of India, where he has been based since 1959.
Meanwhile, police sealed off the normally quiet city of Bodhgaya and used metal detectors to search all visitors to the ceremony due to reported threats against the Dalai Lama.
Nine people were detained during the Kalchakra.
China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since 1951 and has been accused of trying to wipe out its Buddhist-based culture through political and religious repression and a flood of ethnic Chinese immigration.
The Dalai Lama headed west from Bodhgaya to Sarnath, where the Buddha first preached after attaining enlightenment.
The Dalai Lama will then visit Sarnath's neighboring Hindu holy city of Varanasi.

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.