The Dalai Lama, a spiritual figure in Tibet, expressed regret on Monday following backlash to a video showing him kissing a young kid on the lips.

The 87-year-old leader expressed regret for the event in a statement on his official website, saying he wanted to "apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused."

The event happened in February during a large assembly at the exiled leader's temple in Dharamsala, the Tsuglakhang temple. When the youngster requested to give him a hug, he was answering questions from the audience.

The Dalai Lama invited the boy up toward the platform he was seated on. In the video, he gestured to his cheek, after which the child kissed him before giving him a hug.

The Dalai Lama then extended his tongue and invited the kid to kiss him on the lips. As the youngster sticks out his own tongue and leans in, the Dalai Lama can be heard saying, "And suck my tongue," drawing hilarity from the audience.

His actions were criticised as disrespectful and frightening by social media users when the video went viral.

The boy's identify is unknown. He was present at a gathering put on by the M3M Foundation, the charitable arm of Dharamshala, India-based M3M Group. The M3M Foundation has been contacted by CNN for comment.

Famous Delhi-based child rights organisation Haq: Center for Child Rights issued a statement to CNN condemning "all forms of child abuse" in response to the tragedy.

The statement said, "Some news reports refer to Tibetan culture regarding showing tongue, but this video is unquestionably not about any cultural expression, and even if it were, such cultural expressions are not acceptable."

However, some of the Dalai Lama's admirers have condemned the criticism, claiming the Western perspective has misconstrued the leader's conduct.