Tibetan Traditional Festivals
Colorful traditional festivals in Tibet Antonomous Region are time-honoured and mostly with religious links. About twenty festivals are celebrated from the begining to the end of the year. Relatives' and friends' get togethers, boys' and girls' social contacts, singing, dancing deplaying artistic talents, showing acting abilities can be done best in these festivals.
As time goes by, people focus on the traditional and recreational aspects of festivals. Many unique festivals like Saga Dawa, Shoton, Death anniversary of Tsongpa help tourists get better understandings about Tibet. We introduce these main Tibetan festivals and tour itinerary suggestion for you to help you plan your tibet tour better and make your time in Tibet more pleasent and meaningful.
The following information we have listed is about the major traditional Tibetan festivals. And then you learn more about the Tibetan people and plan your better Tibet Tour.
(July 1st of Tibetan Calendar) Tibetan word "Shoton" means yogurt banquet. Shoton Festival is also called "Tibetan Opera Festival" or "Buddha Exhibition Festival", which came from Tibetan operas and Buddha paintings in the festival. Various traditional events including yak racing, stone lifting and tug-of-war are brought to the attention of local people. The annual Giant Thangka show is held at Jokhang Temple. Usually, Shoton festival lasts for one week.
(January 15th of Tibetan Calendar) In Butter Lantern Festival, various butter sculptures are hung at shelves around Jokhang Temple by lamas and folk artists. As night falls, people burn them to worship Buddha.
(January 1st of Tibetan Calendar) Tibetan New Year is the most significant festival in Tibet and lasts for several days. Different areas have different ways to make the celebration.
(April 18th of Tibetan Calendar) Peasants and herdsmen of Gyantse and businessmen from Lhasa, Shigatse and Yadong assemble in the county of Gyantse. Horse racing, Singing, Dancing and Exchanging goods and materials make the festival colorful.
(August of Tibetan Calendar) Ongkor Festival is an old festival in farming areas of Tibet, which also called as Bumper Harvest Festival. When all crops are waiting for harvest, people celebrate the festival, singing and dancing.
(July of Tibetan Calendar) Bathing Festival lasts for one week, also known as the Bathing Week. It is believed that water in Tibet is very holy in the festival week, which is able to clear the mess, cure the disease and improve the health. People go to the river for bathing, washing and playing.
(April 15th of Tibetan Calendar) Saga Dawa Festival has another name of Free-Captive-Animal Festival. In the whole month, lamas can not eat meat and kill animals, but focus on prayer. All the people take the ritual walks along the fixed routes, holding prayer wheels and reciting the mantra "om mani padme hum".
(August 10th of Gregorian calendar) With the coming of the golden time in the Nothern Tibet Grassland, the biggest festival-Nagchu Horse Racing Festival is held, which attracts tens of thousands of herdsmen riding their horses, taking items and assembling in Nagchu. In the south of Nagchu, a temporary tent city is formed, where various exciting activities like horse racing, shooting could be joined.