Dalai Lama apologises for asking boy to ‘suck his tongue’ after outcry

In this still from a video, the spiritual leader can be seen asking the boy to “suck his tongue”. — Business Today

Following an outcry on social media, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama apologised on Monday after a video showed him asking a boy to suck his tongue.

The Dalai Lama’s office, in a statement, said the leader “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” and that he “regrets” the incident.

“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement claimed.

In the video, which went viral, the Dalai Lama, 87, can be seen planting a kiss on the boy’s lips as he leaned to pay his respects.

The Tibetan spiritual leader then stuck out his tongue and asked the boy to suck it.”Can you suck my tongue?” he could be heard asking the boy.

The video is from an event in McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamshala city in northern India, on February 28.

“The identity of the boy is not known. He was at an event with the M3M Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Indian real estate company M3M Group, based in Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama lives in permanent exile,” CNN reported.

Twitterati called out the Dalai Lama and called his actions “disgusting” and “absolutely sick” after the video went viral on Sunday.

“Utterly shocked to see this display by the #DalaiLama. In the past too, he’s had to apologise for his sexist comments. But saying – Now suck my tongue to a small boy is disgusting,” wrote user Sangita.

Another poster, Rakhi Tripathi, said: “What did I just see? What that child must be feeling? Disgusting.”

The Dalai Lama remains the universally recognised face of the movement for Tibetan autonomy.

But the global spotlight he enjoyed after winning the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize has dimmed and the deluge of invitations to hobnob with world leaders and Hollywood stars has slowed, partly because the ageing leader has cut back on his punishing travel schedule, but also due to China’s growing economic and political clout.

Beijing accuses him of wanting to split China, and has referred to him as a “wolf in a monk´s robe”.

In 2019, the Dalai Lama apologised for saying that if his successor were to be a woman, she would have to be “attractive”.

The comments, which were criticised around the world, were made in an interview with the BBC.

— Additional input from AFP

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