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Festivals of Tibet

On different occasions in a year Tibetans have their flamboyant festivals going on. And if a tourist can arrange their Tibet visit in one of these festivals then it will be a life time experience for them. Huge numbers of pilgrims assemble to Lhasa and the city becomes more alive with vibrant colors and movement. Tibetans follow calendar so it’s better to check the precise date of the festivals in the current Tibetan calendar. Here are some major festivals of Tibet.

Tibetan New Year (March 3)

This is the greatest festival for Tibetan people. In ancient times when the peach trees were in blossom, start of the New Year was considered. But since the systemization of if the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD, the first day of the month when peach blossomed was fixed as the New Year. On this day Tibetan families gather and auspicious dipper is offered, and the suspicious word “tashi delek” are greeted.

Butter oil lantern festival (March 18)

It is the last day of the great prayer festival. In order to commemorate the Sakyamuni’s victory over the non-Buddhist opponent, the Lord of Neu Dozong, a noted patron of Tsongkapa, illuminated numerous butter-lamps in 1409. The tradition continues to the present day and t March 18 huge numbers of butter-lamp are lighted in the Tibet and its cities.

Saga Dawa Festival (June 14)

This is a very auspicious day, since the gods are believed to descent from the heaven to the earth on this day. Incense sticks are lighted in huge number and families gather and go for picnicking in this day. This very day is also known as the World Incense Day too.

Horse Racing Festival, Gyantse (20-27 July)

Horse racing and archery are tremendously admired in Tibet and its periphery. And the Gyantse enjoys the pride of being the first one to start this sport in 1408. This festive includes horse races, archery, shooting on a galloping horseback followed by few days of picnicking, parting and entertainment. Other activities like the ball game, track and field events, folk singing and folk dancing are the additional attraction of this festival.

Yalong Cultural Festival (July 25)

Though this festival is held in Tibet, it is a festival of international importance. This festival is combination of both art and economy. This festival brings together the old brilliance and the new expectations at the same time. Different enjoyable events like national sports contests, singing, dancing,  Tibetan opera, ethnic costume shows and trade fairs happens in this festive. 

Shoton Festivals (August27, September 3)

This is an opera festival commonly known as the shoton festival in Tibet. In ancient times pious folks went in to mountain hermitages to de penance. Yogurt is served as meal at the last day of the festival which is followed by song dance and entertainment.

 Ganden festival

This festival takes place on the 15 th day of the 6 th Tibetan month. On this day 25 precious articles belonging to Ganden monastery are displayed in the main shrine hall. These precious articles are generally keep locked and safe in the treasure house of the monastery. The articles consist of the images of sixteen arhats, akshobhya, the secret assembly, the four great kings, the upasaka and the hashang image. The display is accompanied by the grand offering.

Harvest Festival (September)

This is the time when farmers from Lhasa, Gyahtse and Shangnan celebrate their harvest. People enjoy with horse riding, costume fashion show, songs and dance party etc.

Bathing Week

When the scared planet “the Venus” appears in sky, it is commonly believed in Tibet that the water in rivers and ponds becomes purest and are able to cure disease. During its appearance for one week in the sky, Tibetan people go to the river and take a bath.

Important festival dates in Tibet