The Dalai Lama issued an apology on Monday after a video was released asking a boy if he desired to suck his tongue.
His office expressed that he wanted to apologize to the child and his family “for the hurt his words may have caused.”
Additionally, the video displays the Dalai Lama kissing the child on his lips.
“His Holiness frequently engages with people he encounters in a lighthearted and innocuous manner, even in public and in front of cameras. He regrets the incident,” his office stated.
The video has elicited extensive disapproval, with numerous social media users deeming it unsuitable and unsettling.
The event seems to have occurred at the Dalai Lama’s temple in Dharamshala on February 28. He interacted with approximately 120 students who had finished a skills training program arranged by the M3M Foundation, the charitable branch of real estate company M3M Group.
The foundation posted pictures from the gathering on social media in March – in one image, the Dalai Lama is shown embracing the boy from the viral video.
In the widely-shared video, the boy is shown asking if he can hug the Dalai Lama. The leader gestures to his cheek, saying “first here,” and the boy kisses his cheek and hugs him.
Subsequently, while grasping the boy’s hand, the Dalai Lama gestures to his lips and says “I think here also,” and kisses the boy on the lips.
The leader then places his forehead against the boy’s, extending his tongue, and saying “and suck my tongue.” Amid laughter, the boy protrudes his tongue briefly before pulling back slightly, followed by the Dalai Lama.
Additional embraces ensue, as the spiritual leader converses with the boy for some time, advising him to observe “good human beings who create peace and happiness.”
In Tibet, sticking out one’s tongue can be a form of greeting.
The Dalai Lama has resided in exile in India since escaping Tibet in 1959 after a rebellion against Chinese rule.
In 2019, the Dalai Lama’s office apologized when the spiritual leader mentioned in a BBC interview that any future female Dalai Lama should be “attractive.”