The Tibetan Government-in-Exile began a year-long celebration of the 360th anniversary of its governmental system known as Gaden Phodrang Chokley Namgyal on May 17, 2002. This governmental system began when the fifth Dalai Lama assumed authority over Tibet in 1642.

In 1642 Mongol chief Gushri Khan installed the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, (1617-82) as Tibet’s spiritual and temporal ruler.

The Fifth Dalai Lama’s historical eminence is due to the exceptional insight, skill and discipline he brought to his reign, despite the peculiar and complex conditions in which he exercised his authority. He founded the Gaden Phodrang governmental system, which continues under the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. He also began the construction of the Potala Palace, which has today become Tibet’s landmark. He established friendly ties with the neighboring Manchu rulers in 1642, two years before they came to power in China. Tibetans came to regard the Fifth Dalai Lama as the Great Fifth, an indication of their appreciation of his contribution to their welfare. By the time the Great Fifth died in 1682, Tibet was a land unified politically and spiritually.

In a written message honoring the anniversary, the Dalai Lama said everyone should feel proud that as we celebrate this anniversary Tibetans in exile are able to enjoy a democratic system based on compassion.

The Dalai Lama was not present at this function as he left Dharamsala in the morning on his way to Australia and New Zealand. A more formal celebration will take place in Dharamsala on June 5 and 6 in the presence of the Dalai Lama, according to Tibetan Minister Thupten Lungrik, who heads the Celebration Committee.