By Jack Jenkins
c. 2011 Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Dalai Lama will visit Washington next month for an 11-day peace rally that is being billed as "the largest gathering for world peace in history."
The July 6-16 "Kalachakra for World Peace" aims to "amplify the profound, unshakable commitment of (the Dalai Lama) to values such as love, compassion, wisdom and interfaith harmony," according to publicity materials.
The first day of the event will mark the Dalai Lama's 76th birthday.
Event activities include dancing, chanting of prayers and teachings by the Dalai Lama on Tibetan Buddhist principles. Like other events hosted by the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks will create a colorful and detailed sand mandala, or mural, that will be swept away to illustrate the impermanence of life.
A Kalachakra is an ancient Buddhist ceremony that is "capable of creating ... peace of spirit and therefore peace in the world," according to organizers at the Capital Area Tibetan Association, which is hosting the event.
While the ceremony is intended to school Buddhists in various stages of spiritual discipline, organizers also welcome visitors, saying "observers are welcome simply to watch the ritual, absorb what they wish of the teachings, and receive the blessing."
The D.C. event will be the 31st ceremony of its kind overseen by the current Dalai Lama, and promoters say the location in the nation's capital is "of particular significance" as it is "the leading hub of the free world where local decisions deeply and globally affect an incalculable number of lives."
The Dalai Lama's visit comes just months after he announced his retirement from his role as political leader of Tibet's government-in-exile. While he remains the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama said his people need their own freely elected head of government.