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Tibet Buddhist Holidays

  • by Meo
  • Last Updated: 2021-11-29

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


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. 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. This festival will fall on March 3rd 2022.

Tibetan New Year
Chema of Tibetan New Year.

Monlam Chenmo

The Monlam is called "Malangmu" in Tibetan, which means to pray for happiness and well-being. The Monlam Chenmo falls on the 4th -11th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar, and it’s one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist holidays of the Gelug Sect. This day is established in 1409 by Lama Tsongkhapa to commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment. Master Tsongkhapa held The Great Prayer Festival in Lhasa. Since then, there has been the New Year's Prayer Festival in Tibet, that is, the Monlam Prayer Festival. The main activities include examinations for the monks, monks debating, chanting scriptures, displaying huge Buddha Thangka, Dharma dance, aspiration prayers, etc. This festival will fall on Mar 7th 2022.

Monlam Chenmo
Display huge Buddha image

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 one of the most important festivals in Tibet. In 2022, Saka Dawa extends from June 14th to July 13th. These days are known as the month of merits, and Tibetans usually give supports to beggars and refrain from eating meat during this month.

Various activities will be held this month to commemorate. Over time, these activities have turned into large-scale kora, such as the Mt. Kailash kora. During the Saga Dawa Festival, the loop path Lingkhor which goes a circle around the old city of Lhasa, with a total length of about 5,000 meters is the most spectacular. On this day, Tibetan men and women dress up in costumes and pray. In addition, the Tibetans in Lhasa will gather in groups to Zongjiao Lukang Park to have a picnic and have fun with families.

Saka Dawa
Saga Dawa Festival at Mount Kailash.

Zamling Chisang

Zamling Chisang, means World Incense Day or World Happy Day. It's said to commemorate that Guru Padmasambhava once surrendered all the demons in Tibet in May of the Monkey Year. At that time, Tibetans will wear festive costumes, take family members, and bring delicious food, highland barley wine, butter tea, tents, as well as various entertainment equipment and musical instruments to the quiet and forested Lingka (garden in Tibetan). They set up white tents on the lawn or under the old trees, sing and dance while eating and drinking, and enjoy nature heartily. This festival often lasts as long as one month. In 2022, the festival starts on July 13th.

Zamling Chisang
Having Lingka is the most popular way of leisure and entertainment for Tibetans.

Shoton Festival

Shoton Festival, also known as the Yogurt Festival, is celebrated in summer from the end of the 6th lunar month or begininig of the 7th lunar month. 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. In 2022, this grand festival will start on August 27st.

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

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