Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has issued an apology on Monday after a video showing him kissing a child on the lips – and asking him to suck his tongue – triggered criticism. The video of the incident that occurred back in February at an event in northern India triggered a backlash online, with social media users condemning his behavior as inappropriate and disturbing.

A statement posted on The Dalai Lama’s official website and shared across his social media pages said he regretted the incident: “His Holiness 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 … His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.”

The incident occurred at a public gathering in February at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamsala, where the exiled leader lives. The 87-year-old leader was taking questions from the audience when a young boy can be seen approaching the Nobel Peace Prize winner before asking, “Can I hug you?” The Dalai Lama invited the boy up toward the platform he was seated on and gestured to his cheek, prompting the boy to give him a hug and a kiss. The Dalai Lama then points to his lips, and says: “then I think finally here also.” He then pulls the boy’s chin and kisses him on the mouth. “And suck my tongue,” he says after a few seconds, poking his tongue out and prompting laughter from the audience.

The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the best-known living Buddhist figure in the world and is revered by millions as the reincarnation of his 13 predecessors. The spiritual leader has made the hillside town of Dharamshala his headquarters since fleeing from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. India considers Tibet to be part of China, though it hosts Tibetan exiles.

Editorial credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com

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