Dalai Lama's Birthday Bash Driving Planners Nuts

What gifts and what kind of cake to make for spiritual leader are tough calls
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2015 8:51 AM CDT
Dalai Lama's Birthday Party Planners Are in a Pickle
The Dalai Lama stands on stage before making a speech to an audience in Aldershot, southern England, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

He's the man who has (and wants) nothing, which is putting birthday planners in a peculiar predicament. The Dalai Lama turns 80 on Monday, and per the Wall Street Journal, it's been a task and a half to prepare for an address he's giving to about 15,000 people at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. (home of the Anaheim Ducks). First there was the question of the cake. "At first, I thought maybe a nice green tea spongecake," the pastry chef charged with the treat tells the Journal. But organizers "wanted something bigger." And so the Dalai Lama will be getting a giant, almost 5-foot-tall, four-tiered cake built mostly around Styrofoam. "I was in my angry place, it was the opposite of Zen," says one of the members of the team putting the cake together after spending hours placing 24-karat gold leaf on the number "80." "I could've used some spiritual training."

And then there are the gifts. It's hard to tell what to get him based on precedence: The mayor of Anaheim had presented the leader with an Anaheim Ducks hockey jersey back in April, but he tells the Journal the Dalai Lama most appreciated a small plastic coin that said "Anaheim. City of Kindness" and carried it around with him everywhere. An LA artist has been asked to create a portrait of the Dalai Lama to present to him, but, as he notes, "He's one of the most selfless people on the face of the planet … would he really want a portrait of himself?" (He's making a Buddhist-themed collage instead.) Meanwhile, party organizers are asking people to use the hashtag #WithCompassion to share their good wishes with him, and an author who's worked with him before warns that the DL likes to regift, telling the Journal, "I've been the recipient of more than one wristwatch." (Read more Dalai Lama stories.)

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