Protests Planned During Dalai Lama's Bay Area Visit

The Bay Area is buzzing with excitement over the arrival of the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan spiritual leader landed at San Francisco International Airport Friday afternoon and is scheduled to make stops in San Francisco, the East Bay and the South Bay during his weekend visit.

The Tibetan Community Center in Richmond has been preparing with anticipation for the Dalai Lama's visit on Sunday.

Once he comes here, for us, this becomes a holy place," said Kunjo Tashi, a volunteer at the Tibetan Community Center. "So that means a lot for us."

Tashi and other volunteers have spent months renovating, hand-rolling scrolls of scripture and collecting sacred texts and statues for the visit.

"We're really excited and nervous as well," Tashi said. "For us to be able to have him here, sit on the throne and bless the community center -- we are all excited for that."

But the Dalai Lama's Bay Area visit won't be as cheerful.

Protests accusing him of religious persecution and human rights abuses are scheduled throughout the weekend in San Francisco, Berkeley and Santa Clara.

In addition, an international protest was held after President Barack Obama invited the Dalai Lama to the White House Friday morning.

But many Buddhists and Tibetan-Americans said the Dalai Lama's Bay Area visit carries great significance, calling it the "greatest blessing ever."

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco at 2 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, he will make his way to the Berkeley Community Theatre at 9:30 a.m. He concludes his Bay Area visit at Santa Clara University at 10 a.m. Monday.

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