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Tibetan Birth Ceremony

Tibetan birth ceremony is called Pang-sai in Tibetan language. The Pang-sai is actually a cleansing ritual aimed at cleansing the child from the journey into this life. "Pans" means fowls and "sai" means cleaning away in Tibetan. The Tibetans believe newborn babies come to the world alongside fowls, and a ceremony should be held to wipe them out so that these babies would be able to grow healthily and mothers recover soon.

Tibetan birth ritual, evolved from a Bon religious ritual to worship the God, have been going on for more than 1,500 years. When a baby is born, two banners will be placed on the roof eaves, hanging from the edge: one to ward off evil to protect the child and one to attract good fortune. However, the actual celebration does not commence until the third day of the child's life, or fourth for a girl child. It is probably because in old times the children did not always live this long in Tibet, which is high in altitude, but if they were still ok by three or four days, they would usually survive normally.

Tibetan birth ritualRelatives come from remote place to see the new-born baby.

Many people may journey from other places to take part in the birth ceremony. They bring gifts of food and clothing. Buttered tea, barley wine, meat, butter and cheese are presented to represent wishes for an abundant life. New clothing and wonderfully colored scarves are presented to represent shelter for life. Scarves are also presented to the parents to carry good wishes. As soon as they enter the house, they present hada scarves to the baby's parents and then the baby. This is followed by toasting, presenting gifts, and examining the baby while offering good wishes. Some families throw in a pancake feast to entertain the visitors.

Tibetan birth ceremonyTibetan birth ceremony is held in the courtyard.

A visit by a monk from a local monastery or one of the families will insure that the child will develop wisdom. The monk(s) brings religious banners and leads in worship rituals in which everyone participates. Every day, there is family and visitors party for a week until the naming ceremony, but nobody comes into the house or see the child, except immediate family and the monks. The rest of the people are served and celebrate in the courtyard, which is usually partly covered and offers a warm fire. It will be a month before anyone outside of the family or the monks touches the child.

The newborn baby is not given a name until the end of the birth rituals. Generally, a Living Buddha or a prestigious senior villager is invited, but there are also cases when the baby is named by his/her parents. No matter who names the baby, the naming is performed in accordance with the will of the baby's parents for auspiciousness.

Tibetan babyThe mother is carring her little baby to the temple nearby.

When the baby is one month old, a ritual is held on an auspicious day to take the baby out of the home. Before leaving, black ash taken from the pot bottom is used to blacken the baby's nose to ward off evil. Generally, the baby, donned in new clothes, is taken to the monastery for worshipping the Buddha and also for blessing.

See more about Tibetan customs

Master Catherine Jigme

About the Author - Master Catherine Jigme

With exceptional passion and outstanding leadership, Mrs. Catherine has dedicated herself to Tibet inbound tourism and China tour for 15 years. As one of the handful females who see great potential of Chinese inbound tourism, Catherine has made great contribution to promoting Tibet tourism and enhancing the employment of Tibetans and prosperity of local Tibetan community.

Over the years, she travelled overseas with Tibet Tourism Bureau many times to promote Tibet tourism. Currently, Catherine works as the marketing director of Tibet Vista, an opinion leader behind the whole team of Tibet Vista.

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