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Home>Tibet Travel Guide>Tibetan Culture>Tibetan Festivals>Tibetan Festival Calendar, Free Download

Tibetan Festival Calendar, Free Download

September,05 2018 BY Sonam Tenphel 0 COMMENTS

With a history of at least 1500 years, Tibet was isolated from outside world for a long time due to its poor transportation system, but just because of the long-term isolation, unique Tibetan culture has been breeding at the top of the world. Nowadays, the transportation at this area has been greatly improved with the operation of Qinghai-Tibet Railway and many airlines. More and more tourists flock into Tibet by train or air to enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty and experience the splendid culture of Tibet. In order to help tourists to make an earlier plan of travelling to Tibet in 2018, Tibet Travel Org works out the latest Tibetan Festival Calendar for free download. The Tibetan festival calendar takes in the major traditional festivals in Tibet.

2018 & 2017 Tibetan Festivals & Calendar

Tibetan Festivals Main Attractions Tibetan Calendar 2018 Solar Calendar 2017 Solar Calendar Active Region Related Tour Itinerary
Tibetan New Year
(The most important)
To celebrate the new year or Losar Festival, Lamas are chanting and passing fire torches through the crowds. People are cheering for the coming new year by dancing, singing, and merrymaking. 1st of the first Tibetan month Feb.16 Feb.27 TAR 7 Days Tibet New Year Festival Tour
Butter Lantern Festival It is the last high tide of the celebrations of Tibetan New Year. People go to pray in temples and monasteries. Lamas show the butter sculptures shaped in images of deities, animals, plants, and human figures. 15th of the first Tibetan month Mar.2 Mar.12 Jokhang Monastery 4 Days Lhasa Impression Small Group Tour
Tsurphu Cham Dance Festival Ritual dancing carried out by monks, unfolding of a great Thangka. 10th of the fourth Tibetan month May.24 Jun.5 Tsurphu Monastery 9 Days Tsurphu to Yangpachen Trek
Saga Dawa Festival
(The holiest one)
Sakyamuni’s Enlightenment day. Huge numbers of pilgrims walk Lhasa’s Lingkor circuit and Mt. Kailash Kora. 15th of the fourth Tibetan month May.29 Jun.9 TAR 15 Days Tour Kailash in Saga Dawa Festival
Drigung Cham Dance Festival Celebration lasts for 2 or 3 days, a special ceremony and cham dancing will be held in Drigung-til Monastery. 26th of the fourth Tibetan month Jun.10 Jun.18 Drigung Monastery 6 Days Eastern Lhasa Discovery Tour
Tashilhunpo Thangka Festival Celebrated for 3 days. Different portraits of Buddha are exhibited each day. Cham dancing will be held inside the monastery. 13th of the fifth Tibetan month Jun.26 Jul.8 Tashilhunpo Monastery 8 Days Tashilhunpo Festival Tour
Samye Festival Celebrated for 2 or 3 days. Religious ceremonies and cham dancing will be held in Samye Monastery. 15th of the fifth Tibetan month Jun.28 Jul.9 Samye Monastery 5 Days Short Visit to Samye Small Group Tour
Universal Prayer Day On the Universal Prayer Day, Tibetan people go to the tops of local mountains to burn incense and hang prayer flags. 15th of the fifth Tibetan month Jun.28 Jul.9 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Chokor Duchen Festival Also called Chokor Duchen Festival.It celebrates Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi in India. Pilgrims climb the peak behind Drepung Monastery and also the ridge from Parbonka to the Dode Valley. 4th of the sixth Tibetan month Jul.16 Jul.27 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Ganden Thangka Festival Ganden Monastery displays its 25 holiest relics which are normally locked away. A large offering ceremony accompanies the unveiling. 15th of the sixth Tibetan month Jul.27 Aug.1 Gandan Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Shoton Festival
(The most popular)
At dawn, a huge Thangka will be unfolded at Drepung Monastery. Lamas perform opera in the main courtyard. 30th of the Sixth Tibetan month Aug.11 Aug.21 Lhasa 5 Days Shoton Festival Experience Tour
Nagqu Horse Racing Festival Celebrated in Northern Tibet’s grassland. Various activities are held in the grassland of Naqu, such as horserace, yak race, tug of war, lifting stones and Tibetan operas. the Sixth Tibetan month Aug.10 N/A Nagqu 8 Days Tibet Nagqu Horce Racing Festival Budget Travel by Train
Drepung Monastrey Lhoobhum Festival Celebrated for 2 or 3 days. Religious ceremonies and cham dancing will be held in the monastery. 8th of the seventh Tibetan month Aug.18 N/A Drepung Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Drak Yerpa Monastrey Cham Dance Festival Celebrated for 2 or 3 days. Religious ceremonies and cham dancing will be held in the monastery. 10th of the seventh Tibetan month Aug.20 N/A Drak Yerpa Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Bathing Festival It's also called Bathing Festival and lasts for seven days. Tens of thousands of Tibetan men and women go to river or lake to take a bath. 8th of the seventh Tibetan month Sept.16 Sept.6 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Buddha's Descent Day On that day, there are a large number of pilgrims in Lhasa. Ladders are painted afresh on rocks around many monasteries to symbolize the event. 22nd of the ninth Tibetan month Oct.31 Nov.10 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Palden Lhamo Festival On this day, girls and women are dressed up to make pilgrimages in temples, present Khadas to their respected angels, treat themselves to go shopping, have magnificent food, and particularly, ask for money from men to donate to the fairies. 15th of the tenth Tibetan month Nov.23 Dec.3 Lhasa Contact us to tailor your own trip
Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp Festival Also called Gaden Ngachen Chenmo Festival. It celebrates the death anniversary of Tsongkapa. Monasteries and households burn countless butter lamps everywhere and chant prayers. 25th of the tenth Tibetan month Dec.2 Dec.12 Lhasa 5 Days Gaden Ngachen Chenmo Festival Tour
Ghost Exorcising Festival Also called Gutor. People begin to prepare for Tibetan New Year. Tibetan women will start to clean their house and prepare food. People also visit monasteries to worship Buddha and donate money or give gifts to monks. Tibetans also set off firecrackers to get rid of evil spirits. 29th of the twelfth Tibetan month N/A Feb.25th TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip

Tibetan Festivals2018 & 2017 Tibetan Festival Calendar PDF Download

Tibetan calendar is lunisolar calendar, that is, the structure of the Tibetan calendar is based at the same time on the cycles of the sun and the moon. The Tibetan year is composed of either 12 or 13 lunar months, each beginning and ending with a new moon. A thirteenth month is added every two or three years, so that an average Tibetan year is equal to the solar year.

The official Tibetan calendar is lunar, but in Tibetan calendar making different systems are used, which harmonize solar and lunar factors. There are three systems for defining the New Year:

1. The Tibetan New Year (Losar) falls around February - lunar system;
2. The Kalachakra New Year falls in April - solar system;
3. The Elemental New Year falls around December - lunar system.

The Tibetan New Year (Losar)

The official Tibetan New Year, Losar, is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar and it falls around the February new moon. The first month is called Hor-zla (Mongolian month) because of their Mongolian connection.

The history behind Mongolian months began when the Mongolian ruler Chingis Khan invaded parts of Western China. He took over the Chinese months and renamed them as Mongolian months. The day of victory was then celebrated as New Year. In the 13th century the Tibetan Sakya Drongon scholar, Chögyal Pagpa, and his uncle Sakya Pandita, introduced Buddhism to Mongolia. Chögyal Pagpa became a teacher of Chingis Khan's grandson Kubilai Khan, who was the ruler of Mongolia at the time. Along with Buddhism also came the Kalachakra system, and Mongolian months were converted to be equivalent to Kalachakra months. Mongolian rulers named Chögyal Pagmas family Kings of Tibet and this probably helped the Kalachakra system become Tibet's official calendar. In return, the Mongolian Hor-zla month also became the Tibetan New Year as a sign of friendship between the two nations. And to this day the Tibetans still celebrate Chingis Khan's victory over the Chinese tribes.

The Kalachakra New Year and the Elemental New Year

Tibetan calendar is also prepared for observing either the Kalachakra New Year or the Elemental New Year. The Kalachakra New Year is used for planetary calculations for astronomy and astrology. The Kalachakra year is constituted by the Sun's movement through the astrological signs in the Sidereal Zodiac, and this solar year has 365 days. The Kalachakra system uses the same twelve Zodiac houses and planets as the Indian calendar do. When the Sun is entering into Aries, it also marks the Kalachakra New Year, which is actually the third month of the Tibetan Calendar and falls in April. The Elemental New Year falls in December and is used in the calculation of an Elemental horoscope to define a person's age.

Keeping these different systems apart is very important because of their own purposes. When the calendar of the Tibetan New Year defines the official time calculation, then systems of the Kalachakra New Year and the Elemental New Year are essential for astrological calculations.

Each Tibetan year is ruled by one of the five elements (iron, wood, water, fire and earth) and one of twelve animal signs (Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig) as in Chinese calendars, but they start the year on different dates and the months have different lengths. So it is very important not to mix Tibetan and Chinese systems together.

Tibetan years follow twelve-year animal cycles. One element rules two years in a row and then changes to the next element, while an animal sign will rule for one year at a time. The Year 2000 was an Iron-Dragon year and the year 2001 was an Iron-Snake year. The year 2002 was a Water-Horse year, and so forth. The 60 year cycle of all combinations of the five elements and twelve animals is called Rab-byung. We are now living in the 17th. Rab-byung, which began in 1987.

The first year in the Tibetan calendar dates back to the Kalachakra year, 1027. Actually the system of animal years already started in the middle of 600 A.D. under the influence of the teachings of a Chinese princess who married the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. The system of 60 year cycles, Rab-byung, was introduced around the 10th century and in the 11th century it was widely used in Tibet. Kalachakra teachings were blended with Elemental astrology, and when Tibetan scholars made the very first Tibetan calendar they used Rab-byung for counting the years. As Kalachakra teachings were the foundation for chronological calculations, it was decided that the official date of introduction of Kalachakra would be Year One. Year 1027 was a Fire-Rabbit year and from then a Fire-Rabbit year became the first year in Tibetan Rab-byung, while the Chinese 60 year cycle always begins with a Wood-Mouse Year.

Tibetan months are also ruled by the 12 animal signs. From January to December, the months are respectively ruled by Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Mouse, Ox, Tiger and Rabbit by sequence.

Tibetan calendar calculation is a very complete and scientific calendar calculation system. It was praised as "the most authentic calendar calculation" by Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is very insteresint that there are double day and leap day in Tibetan calendar to match the order of solar day and lunar day. If there is no double day and leap day in the month, this month is called "auspicious month".

Sonam Tenphel

About the Author - Sonam Tenphel

Energetic, responsible and reliable, Sonam is a guide with more than seven years experience informing visitors about heritage sites and attractions places in Tibet.

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