Tibet is the land of exotic festivals. You will be completely mesmerized if you travel to Tibet. Travelers over the years have fallen in love with its culture, making it a top destination for those seeking a unique travel experience.
The mystery of the Tibetan plateau tempts tourists to explore leaving them captivated by the natural beauty of this place. However, Tibet is transforming rapidly. A touch of modern culture is sweeping across its regions. Festivals have a great significance on its tourists with unique rituals that appeal to visitors.
The Best Tibetan Festivals
Being a part of a Tibetan celebration is quite special. Their cultural themes allow foreign travelers to learn a lot about the region. Here I have recommended some brilliant festivals in which you will experience the essence of Tibetan culture.
Tibetan New Year
New Year is a time to say goodbye to old memories and embrace everything new about life. Tibetans ring in the New Year in style with a traditional festival that lasts for almost 15 days. The colors of fresh enthusiasm spread everywhere and people find new reasons to celebrate life. It begins December 29th on the Tibetan calendar. The festivities are divided into several parts, but the first few days are extra special.
Buddhist beliefs have deep roots in the life of Tibetans and everything they do is a reflection of that. The festival has tremendous religious significance and Buddhist influence is clearly evident. The citizens try to please the Tibetan deities and pray for a good harvest. It is a way of thanking God for everything good in life. Everyone from children to adults get involved in this festival.
On December 29th, Tibetans spend their day eating “Guthuk” and sharing happy moments with the family. Then the ritual of expelling ghosts is performed which it is breathtaking to watch. The next few days involve cleaning the house, changing the fragrant curtain, visiting neighbors and hanging prayer flags. It is a festival that celebrates togetherness as all ethnic groups come together for the dream of a better year. ‘Losar’ is known for the significant symbolism and monasteries also perform special rituals.
Butter Lantern Festival
This festival is extremely special and Tibetans wait the whole year with great anticipation to experience it. As January 15 comes on the calendar, the residents of Tibet become extremely excited about their special “Lantern Festival” making the New Year celebration easily continue up to January 15. The festivities continue as monasteries and temples witness a tide of people who arrive to worship their deity. As the day ends, the sky is lit up by beautiful butter lanterns prepared by the people. Each lantern carries a wish as it flies up high to spread blessings and light to the infinite space.
Lanterns are prepared creatively and butter sculptures are used in them. From faces of birds to shapes of deities, the imagination knows no bounds. Some lanterns are grand, while some are small, but the enthusiasm is limitless. Tibetan people forget about the humdrum of daily life and they engage in singing and dancing. The famous Butter Lantern Festival commemorate the death of Tsongkhapa.
Saga Dawa Festival
Another crucial festival of Tibet which is all about the life of Buddha is the Saga Dawa Festival. In Tibetan language, Saga Dawa means “fourth month”. This celebration lasts for a whole month as different festivities are carried out by the locals.
Sakyamuni came to the world on the 15th of this month, so this day becomes extremely special. His life went through many phases and each phase is immensely vital. Buddhist Monks do their bit by chanting in the different monasteries and performing certain religious activities related to this occasion.
Lhasa is the place to be during the Saga Dawa festival and large crowds can be found here. Dzongyab Lukhang Park witnesses a great afternoon picnic and all yearly rituals are performed here. The citizens dress up in amazing costume as they embrace the true spirit of the festival. Mt. Kailash is undoubtedly Tibet’s holiest peak. Buddhists go here to worship during this unique festival.
An extremely popular Tibetan festival which brings people together is the Shoton Festival. This grand event has changed its meaning over the years and now it denotes three main things. The first being related to Tibetan opera, where the other two involve Buddha unfolding and a yogurt banquet.
Tibetan monks end seasonal mediation and they celebrate uniquely in retreats. This festival influences the Tibetan culture and both the tourists and the locals engage in the festivities with exhilarating performances, limitless entertainment and great competitions.
Among the other activities, the unveiling of Thangka holds special significance. Drepung Monastery is the place where the scintillating Buddha exhibition takes place. The horn’s sound reverberates in the valley and the atmosphere becomes electrifying.
Apart from eating delicious yogurt and performing holy religious ceremonies, Tibetan opera’s amazing performances steal the heart. Every festival tells a different story while a separate aspect of the culture is celebrated. Get a Tibet tour to experience something truly heart-touching.