Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday Celebration Brings 18,000 People to Anaheim

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A Words failed Yangchen Dolkar as she tried to explain why it was so important for her to bring her three young children Sunday to see the 14th Dalai Lama speak in Anaheim.

The 14th Dalai Lama at the Global Compassion Summit in Anaheim for the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 80th birthday celebration. The Dalai Lama’s actual birthday is Monday, July 9, 2015. Organizers chose the early celebration to coincide with his birthday in Tibet. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The 14th Dalai Lama at the Global Compassion Summit in Anaheim for the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 80th birthday celebration. The Dalai Lama’s actual birthday is Monday, July 9, 2015. Organizers chose the early celebration to coincide with his birthday in Tibet. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A Tibetan who grew up in exile in India and now works as a physician in San Francisco, she views the charismatic monk as greater than any sage or leader.

"He's much more than what I can explain. He's like God to us. It's hard for them to fathom what I mean," said Dolkar, pointing to her three children — all named Tenzin after the Dalai Lama's own name, Tenzin Gyatso — as they giggled at her feet. "If they see him and hear his wisdom ... it's an important part of being a Tibetan."

Dolkar and her brood were among about 18,000 who flocked to the Honda Center to commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize winner's 80th birthday at the Global Compassion Summit.

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