Tibetan Traditional Festivals
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Tibetan Traditional Festivals

Update: Jan. 11th, 2013

Tibetan Festival

Tibetan Traditional Festivals – Tibetan New Year

Tibetan New Year is the most important festival in Tibet. The features of each place to celebrate the festival are different, and the most typical is in Lhasa.

Before New Year, every family will prepare a wooden auspicious bucket to wish harvest and good luck in next year; sheep head shape colorful butter sculpture which represent the domestic animals are all thriving; various fresh and dried fruits, ghee and brick tea to sacrifice before the niche for Buddha.

In December 28th and 29th in Tibetan calendar, every family will clean their house and paint the "eight auspicious objects" on the wall of kitchen by flour. Before the dinner in 29th, people will draw auspicious designs before the house by pulverized lime. In New Year's Eve, the family will have family reunion dinner. After dinner, they will hold a solemn driving ghost ceremony to exorcise.

The New Year's Day in Tibetan calendar, people will get up early; some of them will not sleep the whole night. But they will not go out. "Glomming water" is the first activity in the New Year's Day. In custom, who get the first bucket water will get good luck. When the morning star rise, and heard the yell "Lajieluo" (God wins), the family will open the door and begin the celebrity activities. One of the important activities in the morning is to go to worship Sakyamuni in Jokhang temple. In the New Year's Day, people with dress the most beautiful clothes and more precious jewelry.

Tibetan Traditional Festival - Butter Lantern Festival

The fifth day in the first month of Tibetan calendar is the last climax in New Year, it also the last day of Lhasa Monlam. At that day, people will go to visit the monasteries to worship Buddha; at night, they will put up various flower shelves to exhibit the butter lantern, and lighten up the lanterns to blessing. Some of the flower shelves can reach three floors high, and the shorter can reach two floors high. These butter lanterns are in forms of immortal, figures, plants and animals; some of them are grand, some are small and exquisite. The street in the lantern shadow looks dazzling brilliant and resplendence. People sing and dance while enjoying the flowers and lanterns. Butter Lantern Festival also named Flower Lantern Festival, or Butter Flower Lantern Festival.

Tibetan Traditional Festivals – Saga Dawa Festival

Saga Dawa Festival is influential religious festival in Tibet. "Saga Dawa" is the byword of April in Tibetan calendar. Buddhism believes Sakyamuni was born, became Buddha and passed away in April, so the main activity in the festival is to worship Buddha in Langguo (inner side), Baguo (middle side) and Linguo (out side) in Lhasa. Among the worshipping, the most grand is the believers walking around Linguo in April 15th. The whole commemorative activity starts from April 1st and ends in the end of April.

Tibetan Traditional Festivals – Shoton Festival (Tibetan Opera Festival, Buddha Exhibition Festival)

"Shoton" in Tibetan means yoghurt feast. As there are solemn Tibetan opera show and large scale Buddha exhibition ceremony, so it also named "Tibetan Opera Festival","Buddha Exhibition Festival". Traditional Shoton Festival began with Buddha Exhibition, and main content is Tibetan opera show and gala parties, as well as the wonderful yak racing and horse-back show. Shoton festival will hold in the June 30th in Tibetan calendar (about later half of August) and lasts 5 days.

Tibetan Traditional Festivals – Bathing Festival

The bathing festival in Tibetan is "Gamariji". It is commonly held in the early half of July, and lasting a week. When the Qishan star rises, mass bathing activity begins; when the star fall down, the activity ends. As the bathing festival will last a week, so it also named Bathing Week. It is said in legends that having bath in this period benefits healthy. Tibetan Buddhism believes the water of Tibet in this period with the following features: sweet, cool, soft, light, clean, not smelly, harmless to throat, or belly. In the view of Tibetan natural environment and climate, the water is clean and temperature is relatively high, it is suitable for bathing. In the seven days, thousands Tibetan females and males will come to rivers and lakes to have bath. The big or small tents intersperse the river beach, sandlot and Lingka into a colorful world.

Tibetan Traditional Festivals – Wangkor Festival

The Wangkor Festival, which is held in the August, is an ancient folk festival in farming areas of Tibet. "Wangkor" in Tibetan means surrounding the farmland. It includes horse racing, shooting, singing and dancing, Tibetan Opera, Stone holding, wrestling and a series of ceremony and activity. "Wangkor" is a long history folk festival, not only for it is time to bless harvest, but also it is the time to relax and entertain before autumn harvest.

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