Let’s set a NEW WORLD RECORD! This year, for the 29th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, we want to break the world record for “The Most Candles Lit on a Birthday Cake.” The whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, also known as the world's youngest political prisoner having been abducted by the Chinese government when he was only six-years-old, are still unknown.
To create global awareness for the Panchen Lama and expose the magnitude of the crimes committed against him by the Chinese government, Students for a Free Tibet is collaborating with Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (the seat of Panchen Lama) to attempt setting a new Guiness World Record - “The Most Candles Lit on a Birthday Cake.” The attempt will take place on the Panchen Lama’s 29th birthday, April 25th, at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, in Bylakuppe, Karnataka in South India.
The current record for “The Most Candles Lit on a Birthday Cake” stands at 72,585 candles set by Ashrita Furman and members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre. We will attempt to light 130,000 candles on the cake - a number symbolic of the approximate population of Tibetans in exile. Each candle will represent a Tibetan in exile’s aspiration for freedom and justice for the Panchen Lama.
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Panchen Lama: After the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama is one of the highest Tibetan spiritual leaders. On May 17, 1995, at the age of six, the Panchen Lama was abducted by the Chinese government shortly after being recognized as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama on May 15, 1995. More than two decades later, Tibetans continue to demand for the Panchen Lama to be released and returned to the people of Tibet. China claims he is living a normal life but they refuse anyone access to him.
To fill the spot left vacant by the abduction, the Chinese government appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as the "Panchen Lama."
Since his abduction, many NGOs, governments, and Tibet-supporters have worked tirelessly for his release. These efforts pressured China to make a public statement in 2015, in which a member of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s United Front Work Department said, “The reincarnated child Panchen Lama you mentioned is being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed.” For over two decades, the Chinese government has denied Tibetans, and the world, access to the Panchen Lama.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery: Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is seat to the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader of Tibet. Tashi Lhunpo Monastery seeks to provide the best possible modern education, along with a deep and intimate understanding of the heritage of Tibet. We aim to become a contributing member in spreading the virtues of honesty, compassion and sacrifice, as taught by Lord Buddha.
Students for a Free Tibet: Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. Through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action, we campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom. Our role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice.