Thousands of Buddhists will welcome their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to Aldershot on Monday where he will formally open the town’s new community centre .

It is the Dalai Lama’s second visit to the town in just three years, after he appeared in June 2012 as part of an eight-day tour of the UK.

Tenzi Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, will once again attend the ESS Stadium, the home of Aldershot Town FC , where he will address his supporters ahead of his 80th birthday on July 6.

He will be speaking on Buddhism in the 21st century, which will be followed by a question and answer session, as well as a performance of traditional monk dance known as Chaam Natch.

Gates open at 10am and the event, which has been organised in partnership with the nearby new Buddhist Community Centre UK (BCCUK) , will run from 12.45pm-2.45pm.

However, it is expected that a protest will also be held by members of the International Shugden Community (ISC) and also New Kadampa Tradition, rallying against alleged persecution of Shugden Buddhists by the Dalai Lama.

The visit, this time over two days, will see the Dalai Lama visit the first Buddhist Community Centre in the UK, which has been built next door to the ESS Stadium in High Street, to offer prayers for the victims of the Nepalese earthquake disaster.

Rushmoor borough is home to the single largest Nepalese community in the UK by head of population, around 10,000, the majority of whom are from Buddhist backgrounds. The event at the ESS is, according to the BCCUK, also set to be attended by local religious leaders from across the many faiths practised in Rushmoor, including Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam.

BCCUK spokesman Damar Ghale said: “We are deeply honoured to welcome the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to Aldershot. His Holiness’ visit will mark the opening of our new centre in the UK.

“There is a large Nepalese community in Aldershot and they share the Tibetan and Himalayan people’s reverence for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

He added: “Increasingly, people across the UK are becoming more interested in Buddhism. Our centre in Aldershot has strengthened our sense of community and brought people together, whatever their background and culture.”

The visit, however, looks set to be picketed by supporters and practitioners of the Shugden Buddhist community.

Dorje Shugden is a central figure of a strand of Buddhist belief, whose followers run into the millions in Tibet, India and more widely across the world, albeit still a minority of Buddhists.

Followers say they have been persecuted by the Dalai Lama and segregated from society by being denied vital services and rights.

The ISC was founded in 2014 to campaign against the Dalai Lama alleged ongoing discrimination against, and segregation of, Shugden Buddhists.

A coalition of Buddhist organisations in the UK, including The Buddhist Society and Tibetan Community in Britain, has formally disassociated itself with the protests, which will also take place in London on Saturday.