An exiled Tibetan activist holds a placard during a protest marking the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Massive crowds assembled at the Dalai Lama’s temple in India Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule that forced the spiritual leader into exile.

Supporters of the Dalai Lama chanted and prayed at the Buddhist shrine in mountainous Dharamsala, where the 83-year-old peace icon established a government-in-exile after fleeing a deadly Chinese crackdown in Tibet in 1959.

Devotees in the Indian hill station the Dalai Lama has called home for six decades waved Tibet’s colorful “snow lion” flag, a symbol of separatism that China has outlawed.

Some had “Free Tibet” painted on their faces along with the colors and distinct golden sun of the iconic flag.

“This is a proud day,” Lhakpa Tsering, a Tibetan living in exile in India, told AFP in Dharamsala.

“Sixty years we’ve been in exile. Still, our struggle is young and fresh and strong.”

The Dalai Lama himself was not present at the anniversary ceremony, but chief representatives of the exiled Tibetan administration and foreign dignitaries were in attendance.

Performers dressed in traditional attire danced and recited Tibetan songs at the temple for guests, which organizers said included parliamentarians from 10 nations.

A minute’s silence was held at the outset to remember those killed when China brutally crushed the fledgling Tibetan revolt, a crackdown the government-in-exile claims left tens of thousands dead.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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