Tibetan New Year
Similar to Spring Festival to Han nationality around most area in China, Tibetan New Year is one of the most important traditional festivals to Tibetan people for family reunite and celebration of coming year. Tibetan New Year is estimated according to the Tibetan Losar, starting from the first of the first Tibetan month, which could be late January to middle March in Gregorian calendar, lasting for fifteen days. Due to national belief of Buddhism, the festival is alive with strong religious flavor.
According to legend, Losar has created around hundred years before the Christian era based on the changes of moon. As the development of farming, peasants opened party to celebrate for wheat harvest. After year and year, the tradition was passed on. On 7 century A.D, Indian Buddhism was introduced from India to Tibet (Tu-Bo Kingdom), combined with local religion—Bon Buddhism in later years and created Tibetan Buddhism. Then, ritual of Buddhism is also held on Tibetan New Year.
During the festival, various traditional customs are holding. Tibetan will come back to home for family reunite, clearing house, making special food for sacrifice, wearing ethnic splendid attire to celebration, singing and dancing, holding horse race and making prayer in temple for good fortune. Among them, Monlam Festival, the Great Prayer Festival is holding on 4th to 11th on January on Losar while thousands of monks assemble to chant in the Jokhang temple; pilgrims gather to listen the sermons and give religious donations.
Time: 1st to 15th January in Losar
Shoton Festival is one of the traditional festivals in Tibet with history of more than three hundred years. Shoton festival is also known as Yoghurt festival because of the story of served yoghurt to monks in 17th century and later, it becomes a custom in Tibet. Some years later, Tibet opera has been performed as an entertainment in monasteries and become a routine performance gradually in Norbulingka Park during Shoton Festival, that is the reason locals called it as Tibetan Opera Festival. Another important part of Shoton Festival is unveiling giant Thangkas on the hill in front of Drepung Temple which attracted thousands monks and pilgrims to attend.
The Shonton Festival is also holding in Shigatse annually later after Shonton Festival in Tibet, but it is small relatively.
Time: annual late June to beginning of July on Losar (about in August)
Place: Lhasa city and Shigatse
Saka Dawa Festival
Saka Dawa Festival is celebrating of the birthday of Sakyamuni, the day he stepped into Buddhahood and attained nirvana. A sort of religious ritual and folk performance are played for ceremony including Tibetan dance and song, Tibetan opera, sutra chanting, prayer turning, unveiling Thangka as well as circling-mountain, thus Saka Dawa Festival is also well-known as Circling-Mountain Festival. In recent years, Saka Dawa Festival has become a famous attraction of tourists visiting Tibet.
Time: 5th April on Losar
The festival is a custom in Tibet starting from the first day Venus appears in the sky until the star disappeared. Lasting for seven days, the festival is also called as Bathing Week. During the festival, all Tibetan will bathe themselves in river and wash household articles. Local believes that the holy bath can heal illnesses, wards off misfortune and bring good body and fortune.
Time: 6th to 12th July on Losar
Place: Lhasa River and other rivers in Tibet
Lighting festival is celebrating for the originator of Buddha Gelug section—Tsongkhapa. It is said that 25th Oct on Losar is the day of Tsongkhapa stepped into Buddhahood and attained nirvana. During the festival, butter lights will be lighting all night long at any corner which can put light in temples, houses and streets.
Time: 25th Oct on Losar
Place: Jokhang Temple and Ganden Monastery in Lhasa