Thousands of Tibetan exiles flocked Thursday to the Dalai Lama's Tsuglakhang temple in northern India to celebrate his 71st birthday.

Several thousand Tibetan exiles and hundreds of foreign admirers of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate gathered in the early morning in the mountainside town of Dharamsala to offer prayers for his birthday. Dharamsala is the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile.

CountryWatch: India

Following the prayers, groups of monks in maroon robes danced and twirled through the town, singing Tibetan songs.

The Dalai Lama usually does not attend celebrations for his birthday and was not present at Thursday's festivities.

He has for years campaigned for Chinese authorities to grant more autonomy to Tibet — a move he says is needed to preserve the region's Buddhist culture.

While his health is generally good for a man his age, "on doctors' advice we have postponed all his engagements for a month," Tenzin Takla, an official in the Dalai Lama's Private Office in Dharamsala, said Thursday.

The Dalai Lama canceled a European tour scheduled to begin in Helsinki next week after doctors said he was suffering from exhaustion, the Finnish organizers said Wednesday.

Since fleeing into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama has kept up a busy schedule of campaigning for Tibet.