Glastonbury crowd sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Dalai Lama at Stone Circle

Spiritual leader praised Glastonbury for being "a festival of people"

The Dalai Lama today (June 28) visited Glastonbury festival, where he shared his a message of “love and tolerance and fairness” and was serenaded with not one but two renditions of ‘Happy Birthday” to mark his 80th year on July 6.

The spiritual leader appeared in King’s Meadow, home to Worthy Farm’s stone circle. BBC executive Alan Yentob introduced and interviewed him on a wooden stage with a Tibetan flag behind it.

The Dalai Lama praised Glastonbury for being “a festival of people, not governments or politicians”, but had a message for the weary festivalgoers: “While you are here, enjoy the joyfulness here. But you should remember on this same planet are human beings being killed by human beings.”

He said: “Brothers and sisters, as you enjoy this festival, I noticed when I was coming in by car that the people are old and young, everybody seems to be having fun. People are happy and joyful. My friend asked me to come to his great festival: a festival of people. Not necessarily a festival of the government, or of politicians. This, I think truly, is a festival of the people.”

Asked what he thought about music, he was fairly blunt: “Not much!” he said, explaining that music is a sensory stimulation and he promotes “mental-level satisfaction” achieved by meditiation.

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso spoke in detail about the importance of meditation and mindfulness, and commented on violence in the Middle East. “In Syria and Iraq and some other places they’re killing other human beings,” he said. “Unthinkable. The worst thing is the killing of others in the name of faith. Unthinkable”.

After the speech, interviewer Alan Yentob told NME: “It was rather a one-off, you know, like nothing I’ve done before. He’s a very sweet natured man with a lot of humanity and compassion and that’s his big thing, so it was a privilege to be here and see thousands of people started to emerge and the crowd grew and grew. His humour and his modesty shone through – there aren’t many people who could command a crowd like that, particularly at Glastonbury.”

In the crowd, Shehnoor Ahmed from London said: “I thought he was funny, especially when they asked him about music. A lot of what he was saying about awaking the senses through consciousness was very interesting – it’s all backed up by science. He seemed like a real person that you could relate to, probably sit down with and have a cup of tea.”

Stephan Quarry from Birmingham said: “I practice meditation. It was nice to hear him say some truths, like we all know what’s going on really and we all need to be more passionate and realistic about creating happiness within ourselves.”

After speaking for around 30 minutes, The Dalai Lama was led through the Green Fields, the 60-acre site dedicated to peace and spirituality, stopping off for food at the Greenpeace Café in the Greenpeace Field before joining a panel on climate change at Williams Green with Guardian editor Kath Viner and environmentalist George Monbiot.

Emily Eavis described the Dalai Lama’s visit as “a special moment for the Festival”.

The appearance at the festival of the exiled head monk of Tibetan Buddhism caused some controversy in china. According to Reuters, China’s government said the move was “tantamount to giving him a platform to engage in anti-China activities”.

Thanks to EE for powering NME’s 2015 Glastonbury coverage.