Tibet Buddhist Holidays

  • by Meo
  • Last Updated: 2020-04-01

As a sacred region with flourishing Buddhism, most Tibetan holidays are related to Buddhism. There are some details about Tibet Buddhist holidays which may interest you.

Losar

Losar, whose “Lo” means year and “sar” means new, starts on the 1st day of the Tibetan Calendar and plays an important role as Tibetan New Year. It’s the largest Tibetan holiday which will last for 15 days at most. Losar will be celebrated by all the Tibetans and it will fall on February 16th in 2018. The first day of Losar is called Guru Losar, Tibetan people greet teachers and monasteries on this day. The second day is called King Losar, Tibetans pray, dance and sing to celebrate this day. The third day is called public Losar, people celebrate this day with friends and family. Tibetans will perform special rituals, which is called Losar-related rituals on Losar. The ritual has two parts, one is performed on the eve of the New Year to close out the old year and get rid of bad aspects. After that, the other part will be performed to welcome the New Year and invite good things into their homes. Tibetan people will set up a Losar Shrine in their home and eat guthuk and khapse with their families.

Monlam Chenmo

The Monlam Chenmo falls on the 4th -11th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar, and it’s the most important Tibetan Buddhist holiday. This day is established in 1409 by Lama Tsongkhapa to commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Saka Dawa

“Dawa” means “month” in Tibetan while “Saka” is a star associated with the full moon of the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar. Saka Dawa is the most important month in Tibet. In 2018, Saka Dawa extends May 16th to June 13th. These days are known as the month of merits, Tibetans usually give supports to beggars and refrain from eating meat during this month.

Zamling Chisang

Zamling Chisang, also known as the Universal Prayer Day, falls on the 15th day of the fifth month in the Tibetan calendar. In 2018, the date is June 28th. On this day, all the Tibetans climb to the tops of local mountains and hang prayer flags.

Shoton Festival

Shoton Festival is celebrated in summer. Tibetan people usually watch the opera with prayer wheels rolling in their hands.

Shoton Festival

Shoton Festival, also known as the Yogurt Festival, is celebrated in summer from the 15th to the 24th of the 5th lunar month. In 2018, this grand festival will start on August 21st and extend to September 27th. Monks retreat in their monasteries for a month before this festival to avoid stepping on insects and killing them. This holiday originated from a banquet for the monks given by laypeople in the 16th century. Afterward, summer operas and theatricals were added to celebrate this festival. The operas last for whole days, filled with loud sounds of cymbals, bells, and drums. People act like villains and devils to dance in the opera, with choruses from the recitatives. Tibetan people usually watch the opera with prayer wheels rolling in their hands. There are only professional actors from Lhasa Singing and Dancing Troupe nowadays, but dancers came from all over Tibet in the old days. Family groups visit each other and have feasts together during this holiday. At night, Tibetan families will make bonfires and have fun together.

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