Dalai Lama Apologizes Over His Greeting of Young Boy

Spiritual leader asked the child to 'suck my tongue,' now regrets the 'playful' exchange
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2023 6:44 AM CDT
Dalai Lama Apologizes Over His Greeting of Young Boy
The Dalai Lama touches foreheads with a young boy before addressing a group of students at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamshala, India, Feb. 28, 2023. The Dalai Lama is apologizing over video of their exchange.   (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

Creepy or "playful?" The Dalia Lama is apologizing after video emerged of him asking a small boy to "suck his tongue" during a public greeting, reports Reuters. “His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” reads a statement from the office of the 87-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader. It adds that he "regrets" the moment in northern India and "wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused,” per CNN. The incident happened in February when the Dalai Lama visited the city of Dharamshala.

The boy first asks if he can hug the Dalai Lama. Here is the description of what happened next, via the BBC:

  • "The leader motions to his cheek, saying 'first here' and the boy kisses his cheek and gives him a hug. Then, while holding the boy's hand, the Dalai Lama motions to his lips and says 'I think here also,' and kisses the boy on the lips. The leader then puts his forehead to that of the boy's, before sticking out his tongue, saying 'and suck my tongue.' As some people laugh, the boy sticks his tongue out before withdrawing a little, as does the Dalai Lama." You can see part of the moment here.

After that, the Dalai Lama counsels the boy to look to "good human beings who create peace and happiness." The BBC adds some context, noting that "sticking one's tongue out can be a form of greeting in Tibet." But a rights group in India wasn't accepting that explanation. “Some news refers to Tibetan culture about showing tongue, but this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable," the group Haq tells CNN in a statement. (More Dalai Lama stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.