The Dalai Lama has issued an apology after a video shared online showed him asking a young boy to suck his tongue.
The Tibetan Buddhist leader is also seen kissing the boy on the lips.
The interaction, which took place at the Dalai Lama’s temple in Dharamshala, India on February 28, shows the boy asking the 87-year-old for a hug.
The Dalai Lama then points to his cheek and says “first here” which the boy kisses, before pointing to his lips and saying “then I think finally here also”.
After that, the two touch heads and the Buddhist leader sticks out his tongue and says “suck my tongue”.
The boy sticks out his tongue as people around them laugh before he withdraws it.
The footage – which had gone viral – was released by India’s M3M Foundation which organised the event for around 120 students who had recently completed a skill training programme.
In Tibet, sticking your tongue out can be a form of greeting.
But the video led to widespread criticism against Dalai Lama, and on Monday, he issued a statement apologising for his actions.
He said: “A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug.
“His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras.
“He regrets the incident.”