Every year Tibet will held and celebrate many Tibetan festivals, for Tibetan locals, those festivals are very important, Of course, Tibet also has some special festivals in some other areas and periods, which are of great significance in the local area. Here we will not list them one by one but list some most significant.
The Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar, is the most important and solemn traditional festival of the year for the Tibetan people. It is a very important Tibetan festival and is comparable to the Chinese New Year. At this time of the year, Tibetan people hold colorful folk celebrations. And the Tibetan New Year is the best festival to experience Tibetan culture. Bhutan and Mongolia, which are heavily influenced by Tibetan culture, also celebrate the Tibetan New Year.
According to the relevant documents and research results at home and abroad, the Tibetan calendar had already existed before the Tubo Dynasty was established. The Tibetan New Year in ancient times with wheat ripe for the first day of the year or wheat harvest for the first day of the year is in summer and autumn. It is recorded that before 100 BC, the Tibetan people had their own calendar, which calculated days, months and years according to the phases of the moon. Hundreds of years later, believers of Bon(the primitive religion of Tibet) could accurately calculate the time of the return of the winter solstice, and make it as the beginning of the year, they formed festivals and various rituals. In the 7th century, two princesses Wencheng and Jincheng of the Tang dynasty entered Tibet to marry, bringing their calendars to Tibet. Since then, the Tibetan ancient calendar combined with the Han calendar and the Indian calendar to form a unique calendar in the Yuan dynasty, which was composed of Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. About the 13th century Yuan dynasty, Pagba the Sakya dynasty of Tibet, The first day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar is regarded as the beginning of the New Year, and it has been followed until now.
The Tibetan New Year begins on the first day of the Tibetan calendar and lasts for five to seven days. Generally speaking, Tibetan people celebrate the Tibetan New Year from December 29 of the Tibetan calendar. The Tibetan New Year is usually in February or March on the Gregorian calendar. Its date is very close to the date of the Chinese New Year. The Tibetan New Year is usually by one day or the same day as the Chinese New Year. But sometimes the Tibetan New Year is almost a month later than the Chinese New Year. For example, the Tibetan New Year in 2020 falls on February 24 in the Gregorian calendar, while the Chinese New Year falls on January 25 in the Gregorian calendar.
As the most distinctive traditional festival in Tibet, the Tibetan New Year is celebrated by grand activities in every region of Tibet, especially in Lhasa. During this festival, Tibetan people will hold religious ceremonies, visit the Buddhist temples for blessing, cook special Tibetan food, and so on. Generally speaking, the atmosphere of the festival lasts for 15 days, and especially the New Year's eve and the three days before the New Year.
Tibetan New Year's eve: It's a very busy day. This day, in addition to cleaning houses, personal hygiene, each family should be in a wooden bucket("Zhusu Qima") filled with butter mixed Zanba, Fried wheat, Ginseng fruit, and other food, above inserted barley spike and butter flower color board. Then put “Qima”, "Kasai" (Fried fruit), barley wine, sheep's head, fruit, tea, butter, salt on the cabinet in the main hall, and in front of the door with Zanba or white powder painting on the eight auspicious figure, Tibetans wish the New Year grain harvest, people and livestock flourishing.
The first day of Losar: It is in the early morning auspicious "Zhega" rap ushered in. On the first day of Losar, the Tibetan people will have a "grabbing water game". Each family should send a young man to the river, well or under the tap water to "grab" the first water. According to the Tibetan tradition, who grabs the first bucket of water on the first day of the Tibetan calendar is the "gold water", and the second bucket of water is called the "silver water", which indicates good luck and fortune. Additionally, on this day, many Buddhist farmers and herdsmen go to the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa to pray for a safe and healthy new year.
The second day of Losar: On this day, Tibetans visit their relatives and friends to make the streets lively. It is also a time for people to show their New Year's fashions. The streets and lanes of Tibet are filled with a festive atmosphere.
The third day of Losar: The activities of this day are mainly religious and stylistic. The turning road and roof are filled with thick mulberry smoke. Young people plant colorful prayer flags on roofs and hilltops to pray for no disaster in the new year. Devout Tibetans also go to local monasteries to pray and make offerings.
Sho Dun Festival
Shoton Festival is a grand traditional and religious festival in Tibet. In Tibetan, Shoton Festival is the festival of eating yogurt, so it is also called "yogurt festival". And the Shoton Festival is also known as the "Tibetan Opera Festival" because of having the grand Tibetan opera performance during the Shoton Festival. In addition, The Shoton Festival is usually held in August, when Tibet has the most beautiful scenery of the year. If you visit Tibet on that time, you can not only experience the rich religious culture of Tibet, but also enjoy the most beautiful scenery of Tibet. In May 2006, the Shoton Festival declared by the Tibet autonomous region was included in the first batch of Chinese intangible cultural heritage list with the approval of the State Council.
Shoton Festival originated in the middle of the 11th century, and was first formed in the Drepung Monastery. At that time, the Shoton Festival was a pure religious activity. A folk legend says that there are more than 300 commandments of Buddhist, the most taboo is killing life. Due to the warmer summer weather, vegetation growth, hundreds of insects awakening insects, all life recovery, when monks go out, it is inevitable that they will step on and kill lives, and violate the commandment. Therefore, according to the precepts of the Gelug sect, during April to June in the Tibetan calendar, monks can only stay in the monastery and practice quietly behind closed doors until the end of June. On the day of the release of the prohibition, monks came out of the temple one after another and went down the mountain. In order to reward the monks, secular people prepared stuffed yogurt, held picnic feast for them and performed Tibetan opera in the celebration. That's the original Shoton Festival.
From the second half of the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century, the Emperor of the Qing dynasty conferred on the fifth Dalai Lama and the fifth Panchen Lama. golden books and seals, thus strengthening the system of theocracy in Tibet. In addition, the Emperor gave them gold books and seals, thus strengthening the system of theocratic unity in Tibet. In 1642, the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism took power in Tibet, and the fifth Dalai ascended the throne. The Drepung Monastery where he lived became the political, religious and cultural center of the dynasty.
After the democratic reform in Tibet in 1959, the content of Shoton Festival became more abundant.
In recent years, various organs and units of the autonomous region have also arranged large-scale cultural and artistic activities, academic discussions and economic and trade exchanges during the Shoton Festival, making the scene even more lively.
In Tibet, the annual Shoton Festival begins on June 29 in the Tibetan calendar. It usually falls around the middle of August on the Gregorian calendar. Tibetan people in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan also celebrate Shoton Festival. But the celebration’s dates vary from region to region, Some in early February, some in mid-April, some in mid-June.
The traditional Shoton Festival begins with the exhibition of the Buddha thangka. The main contents are Tibetan opera performances, a yogurt banquet and public garden parties, as well as wonderful yak racing and equestrian performances. The centre of the festival is Norbulingka, on the western outskirts of Lhasa.
1. Buddha Thangka Exhibition
Basking Buddha is the exhibition of Buddha, the traditional shoton festival to show Buddha as the prelude. First, unfold the huge thangka Buddha statue covered with yellow silk cloth. When the silk cloth slowly hung up, the Buddha statue bit by bit in front of the people, that moment the scene boiling up. As the prelude of the festival, the exhibition of Buddha in Drepung Monastery is the most eye-catching ceremony. At 8 o 'clock in the morning, on the hillside behind Drepung Monastery, under the first ray of dawn, accompanied by the dignified and solemn sound of the trumpet, a 500-square-meter huge thangka of Sakyamuni slowly revealed the peaceful face. At that time, tens of thousands of worshipers and tourists held hands in prayer.
2. Tibetan Opera
Tibetan opera performances began at the Shoton Festival in the late 17th century. As time went on, Tibetan opera performances became another highlight of the Shoton Festival. On the second day of Shoton Festival, in the Norbulingka and Longwangtan park, the Tibetan opera team sings non-stop from 11 a.m. to dusk every day. Many Tibetans listen to Tibetan opera while shaking prayer wheels or twirling Buddhist beads. Tibetan opera exudes a natural, rich and unique charm.The performer is enjoying it, and the viewer is never bored.
3. Yogurt Banquet
In the old Shoton Festival, all the great nobles, living Buddhas and local government officials in Lhasa would come to Norbulingka early to accompany the Dalai Lama to the theatre and attend the yogurt banquet held by the local government. Nowadays, The dressed-up Tibetan families will go to Norbulingka to pitch their tents and have a picnic during the Shoton Festival. Yogurt is essential to their picnic. They sang and danced in the park, which was filled with festive joy.
Wangguo Festival is a festival for Tibetan farmers to celebrate the harvest. It is popular in Lhasa, Shigaze, Shannan and other area in Tibet Autonomous Region. The time of this festival is between July and August of the Tibetan calendar each year. The specific date varies with the season of farming. It is usually held two or three days after the barley harvest.
Butter lamp Festival
The Butter lamp festival commemorates the Buddhist reformer, founder of the Gelug Sect Master Zongkaba. On this day, people will pray to Buddha during daytime, and when the night falls, thousands of butter lamps are illuminated.
Saga Dawa Festival
Saga dawa Festival, also known as the auspicious day of Buddha, is associated with three important events of Buddha's life: birth, Buddha,and Nirvana, which are auspicious days for three periods of celebration. It is an extraordinary and sacred day for believers. For whole month, the Tibetan people will commemorate their Sakyamuni in the form of chanting scriptures, burning incense, and releasing lives.
Tibet Bathing Festival
The Bathing Festival lasts for one week in the early part of the 7th month in Tibetan Calendar. It is said by Tibetan Legend that bathing at this period is beneficial to health. According to Tibetan Buddhism, the water in Tibet at this time has eight advantages: sweet, cool, soft, light, clear, clean, non-harm to throat, nor to belly.
Horse Racing Fair and Archery Festival
When the day comes, thousands of herdsmen dressed the traditional outfits and will gather at vast grassland outside of Nagchu city. After the grand opening ceremony, all kinds of activities will take place, such as horse races, tug of war, stone lifting...
Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival
In March, the wild peach blossoms in Nyingchi area are blooming everywhere. cars are driving on the highway that covered by peach blossoms. The towering snow mountains and glaciers on both sides rush forward. The cattle and sheep are grazing leisurely, the rivers and highways are winding side by side. even don't take pictures, it's a feast of your eyes.
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