ITHACA, N.Y. — The Namgyal Monastery, which sits on Ithaca’s South Hill, will celebrate the 84th birthday of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on Saturday, July 6. The event will feature talks and performances by members of the Tibetan Association of Ithaca and will give community members an opportunity to learn about Buddhism and Tibetan culture.

The Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies was established in Ithaca in 1992 to allow Western students to study Tibetan Buddhism in a monastic setting. The original Namgyal Monastery was founded in Lhasa, Tibet in the 16th century next to the residence of the 2nd Dalai Lama, Gendun Gyatso. When the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, fled into exile in 1959 after the Tibetan uprising against the Chinese military, he took up residence in Dharamsala, India and the Namgyal Monastery was re-established there. The Ithaca monastery is considered a branch of the Dharamsala monastery.

Related: Expansion at Namgyal Monastery: Library and museum will be treasury of Dalai Lama works in Ithaca

The 2018 celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Ithaca. (Courtesy of Namgyal Monastery)
The 2018 celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Ithaca. (Courtesy of Namgyal Monastery)

The monastery in Ithaca has close ties to the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and will soon be home to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s Library and Museum. The cultural center will house hundreds of books and thousands of hours of talks by the Dalai Lama, in addition to religious and cultural relics. The project is intended to preserve and spread the teachings of the 14th Dalai Lama and to facilitate scholarship.

“This will protect the legacy of the Dalai Lama and all that he represents to many millions of people throughout the world. Its primary mission is as a learning center for scholars and practitioners of all faiths, as well as scientists, educators, and philosophers of all disciplines,” the monastery’s website reads.

The Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration on July 6 is an opportunity for all community members to learn about Ithaca’s Tibetan community and the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. The day’s events will begin at 9 a.m. with an introductory talk by Ven. Tenzin Choesang, president of the board at Namgyal and Buddhist chaplain at Cornell. The talk will be followed by prayers; ceremonial tea, sweet rice and birthday cake; birthday wishes; a ceremonial offering; a performance by the Tibetan Association of Ithaca; and a lunch.

All are welcome to attend. Events will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Du Khor Choe Ling, 201 Tibet Drive, Ithaca, N.Y.

Featured image: Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, February 2018. (Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice)

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.