Tibet Destination

Tibetan Festivals

‘New Year Festival (Losar):                                
‘Losar’ is considered  to be the greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times the blossoming of peach trees was considered as the starting of Chinese New Year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 A.D., the first day of the first Tibetan month was fixed as the New Year. In the celebration of this festival family unite for a special dinner, greeting each other with a sacred and auspicious word “tashi delek". It is supposed to be the most colorful festival of Lhasa and is also called as ‘Monlam’ (great prayer festival of Lhasa). This festival is held midway through the first lunar month. An image of Maitreya from the Jokhang temple  is carried around the area of Barkhor, attracting enthusiastic crowds of locals and pilgrims.
Saga Dawa festival (May or June):                           
This festival is considered to be the holiest and most sacred in Tibet due to the miraculous coincidence of the occurring of Buddha’s Birthday and Buddha’s Enlightenment Day the same day. Almost every person within Lhasa joins in circumambulation round the city and enjoy late afternoon picnic at "Dzongyab Lukahng" park at the foot of Potala Palace.
Gyantse horse race & archery (May or June):    
Horse race and archery are very popular  outdoor sports in Tibet. It was in Gyantse that Horse Race festival started in the early 1400s for the first time and since then it has gained much popularity all over in  Tibet. In early times games included horse race, archery and shooting on run followed by a couple days' excitement or picnicking. But, nowadays ball games, athletic contests, folk songs and dances, barter trade are held in addition to horse race and archery. People sell their merchandise in the stalls.
Shoton festival (August): 
It is the opera festival and known to be one of the most popular festivals in Tibet. In ancient times devout Tibetans are believed to have gone into mountain hermitages where yoghurt was served for meal followed by amusing folk songs and dances. Since 7th century, opera festivals were held for several days at Norbu Lingka. These days, opera contests and distribution of prizes are held for seven days.
Harvest festival (September): 
Harvest festival,, also called Ongkor in Tibetan, a great event mainly celebrated in countryside to pray for a good harvest. On this occasion, farmers wear their best clothes, carry harvest pagodas made of the ears of highland barley and wheat and move around their fields beating drums, chanting religious songs and dancing.  Later they assemble in a place and drink Chhang (Tibetan alcoholic beverage made of barley, rice or millet) and yak butter tea. In some areas, different activities are organized, such as horse racing, archery competitions and performances of Tibetan Opera. After the Harvest festival, farmers are caught up with reaping their crops
Bathing week: 
The Bathing Festival goes on for one week in the early part of the seventh month. It is accepted when the sacred planet Venus shows up in the sky, the water in the river changes over and pure healing water good for cure of. Legend has it that disease was far reaching, prompting to great suffering of the people. The Avalokitesvara, one of the Buddhist divinities, emptied sacred water into the rivers of Tibet. Subsequent to washing in the rivers, people recuperated inexplicably from their diseases. Following the time when, right now consistently, people bathe themselves in rivers. This custom has been handed down from generation to generation and later it gradually developed into a festival. It is believed that river baths during this week will not just clean the body, but also wash away potential diseases..
Changtang Chachen horse race festival (10th August):             
It is the most popular festival of northern Tibet taking place amidst the high season on the grassland with yellow flowers, a great many herders throng to Nakchu riding fine horses, and conveying local products for trade. They form into a city of tents in south of Nakchu town. There are then held thrilling horse races, archery contests and demonstrations of horsemanship. Songs and dance troupes from all part of Tibet add the enjoyable  atmosphere to this event.
Ganden festival:      
On the fifteenth day of the sixth Tibetan month, 25 valuable articles having a place with Ganden monastery, which are ordinarily secured in their treasure house, are shown in the main hall of the monastery. An amazing offering service goes with the showcase. These articles consist of the images of the sixteen Arhats, Akshobhya, the secret assembly, the four great kings, the Upasaka and Hashang image.
The Butter Lamp Festival
The Butter Lamp Festival is held on Oct 25th of the Tibetan Calendar is another most important religious festival for Tibetans. It is celebrated to commemorate the death of Tsong Khapa, the founding father of Gelugpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. During that day Monks would burn countless yak butter lamps and a bowl of pure water within the temples and their houses, which brighten so much the shrines. The devout Tibetans would circumambulate and burn fragrant incenses to worship the Buddha.

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