Tibet Fairs & Festivals
The greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times, when the peach
trees were in blossom, it was considered the start of a new year. Since the
systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD, the first day of the first
month became fixed as the new year. On the New Years day, families unite,
an "auspicious dipper" is offered, and the auspicious words "tashi
delek" are greeted.
Great Prayer Festival:
The greatest religious festival in Tibet. Instituted
by Tsongkapa in 1409, the founder of the Gelukpa Sect. Monks from the Three
Great Monasteries of Tibet assemble in Jorkhang for pray to Shakyamunis
image as if it were the living Buddha. Philosophical debates are held among
candidates for the Doctorate of Metaphysics. Pilgrims come from every corner
of Tibet and donations are offered to monks.
Butter Lamp Festival:
The last day of the Great Prayer Festival. In order
to celebrate Shakyamunis victory over nonBuddhist opponents, the
Lord of Neu Dzong, a noted patron of Tsongkapa, illuminated numerous butterlamps
in 1409. The festival flourished since.
Gyantse Horse Race and Archery:
Horse race and archery are generally
popular in Tibet, and Gyantse enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history
by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse races, archery,
and shooting on galloping horse-back followed by a few days entertainment
or picnicking. Presently, ball games, track and field events, folk songs and
dances, and barter trade are additions to the above.
The World Incense Day(Saga Dawa):
Gods in heaven are believed to descend
to the mortal world on this day. Incense is burnt in large scales and picnicking
is done in public parks.
Believed the day Buddha gave his first sermon.
People celebrate the festival by paying visits to holy mountains.
Shoton Festival See:
The Opera Festival and the greatest of festivals
in Tibet. In ancient times, pious folks went into mountain hermitages to do
penance. The last day, yogurt was served as meal followed by folk song and dance
entertainment. Since the 7th century, opera performances were held for days
in Norbulingka. Presently, opera contests and distribution of prizes are held
for seven days.
Believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky.
The water in the river becomes purest and can cure diseases. During its appearance
for one week in the sky, all townspeople in Lhasa go into the river for bathing.
Death of Tsongkapa:
Tsongkapa, the great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism
and founder of the Gelugpa Sect, died on this day in 1419. In memory of that
day, every household burns countless butter-lamps on rooftops and chant
prayers in his honor. Late in the evening Tibetan dumplings are served for supper.
Driving Off Evil Spirits:
At the eve of Tibetan New Year, 29th of the
twelfth month, religious dances are performed in monasteries for driving off
of evil spirits of the past year. At night, in every household, traditional
means of driving off evil spirits are carried out by burning bundles of straw
and throwing rubbish in the crossroads. The YearEnd Dumpling is served
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