ANAHEIM ( — The spiritual leader of about 20 million Tibetan Buddhists worldwide was in the Southland Monday to celebrate his 80th birthday.

The Dalai Lama was on hand at UC Irvine as part of a three-day visit to Orange County, which included a weekend appearance at the Honda Center in Anaheim that drew protests from Buddhists and other activists.

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His visit to UC Irvine includes a panel discussion at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center on “The Effects of Climate Change and Taking Action to Resolve this Global Issue,” followed by a picnic at UCI’s Aldrich Park.

Hundreds of Buddhists from the International Shugden Community (ISC) were also in attendance to protest against the Dalai Lama for alleged religious persecution and human rights abuses.

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Demonstrators were seen holding placards and chanting loudly “Give religious freedom!” and “Stop lying!” to protest against what they say is the Dalai Lama’s persecution of Shugden Buddhists.

On Tuesday, the Dalai Lama will participate in a panel discussion starting at 9:30 a.m. on “The Significance of Education in Advancing Universal Human Values,” also at the Bren Events Center.

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Tickets for the event cost as much as $93.