Dalai Lama prays for ailing Nelson Mandela

Dharamsala, June 27 (ANI): Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Thursday expressed concern for ailing South African leader Nelson Mandela.

"It is very sad, everybody is praying now," he said.

Mandela has been put on life-support following deterioration of his health, three weeks after being hospitalised with a recurring lung infection.

Mandela is closely associated with India and he was also awarded the country's highest civilian award the Bharat Ratna in 1990.

He has already spent over 20 days in the hospital, his fourth hospitalization in six months.

This has forced a growing realisation among South Africans that the man regarded as the father of their post-apartheid "Rainbow Nation" will not be among them forever.

Mandela, South Africa's first black president is admired around the world as a symbol of resistance to injustice for the way he opposed his country's apartheid system, spending 27 years in jail, more than half of them on notorious Robben Island.

He is also respected for the way he preached reconciliation after the 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy following three centuries of white domination.

Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one five-year term in office. (ANI)