Tibetan festivals

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In Tibet, the Tibetan calendar lags approximately four to six weeks behind the solar calendar. For example, the Tibetan First Month usually falls in February, the Fifth Month usually falls in June or early July and the Eight Month usually falls in September.


List of traditional Tibetan festivals

1st Month1st-7thNew Year Festival Losar A week-long drama and carnivals, horse races and archery
1st Month4th-25th Monlam Prayer Festival The Great Prayer Festival, a tradition begun by Tsong Khapa. Many pilgrims gather at Jokhang in Lhasa
1st Month15thLantern FestivalCommemorates Buddha's miracle at Sravasti. Fires are lit on roofs, and lamps in windows
2nd Month28th-29th-Festival to drive out evil spirits and expel the scapegoat. Lamas encircle Lhasa with trumpets
4th Month7thPilgrim FestivalImportant month for pilgrims. -the birth of Buddha Sakyamuni
4th Month15thSaka dawaCelebrates the birth and Enlightenment of Sakyamuni and his entry to Nirvana. An outdoor opera is held and captured animals released. Worshippers flock to the Jokhang in Lhasa to pray.
5th Month14th-16thHanging of the ThangkaA giant thangka is hung at Tashilhunpo in Shigatse
5th Month15thIncense FestivalOn this day ghosts are said to prowl. Tibetans dress up and party to drive away the spirits.
5th Month15th-24th Sho Dun Festival Literally, the "Yoghurt Festival." Worship of the Buddha. Picnics and operas are held in parks particularly under the trees at Norbulingka. There are often bonfires at night.
6th Month4thBuddha's sermonA feast is held to commemorate Buddha's first sermon. Pilgrims climb holy mountains such as Chokbori
6th month6thCham-ngyon-wa, or "Old Dance"Celebrated at the Cho-ne Monastery, representing the souls of the departed.
7th monthbeginningWashing FestivalLasts about a week. People go to the river to wash themselves and their clothes. Said to cure any sickness.
7th MonthendOngkar FestivalLiterally 'Looking around the fields'. Ensures a good harvest. Horse-racing, archery contests and opera
7th/8th MonthAll Golden Star Festival The Golden Star festival is held to wash away passion, greed and jealousy and to abandon ego. Ritual bathing in rivers takes place and picnics are held
8th Month1st-10th Dajyur FestivalThe Dayjur is held in Gyantse and Damxung -horse racing and light hearted sports competitions and games takes places
8th Month1st-7th Harvest Festival The festival is held with prayers, dancing, singing and drinking
8th Month14st-16th Buddha painting unfolding festival Lamas unfold large thangkas on walls and mountains.
9th Month22nd-Buddha's descent from heaven after preaching to his mother is commemorated. All monasteries are opened and pilgrims gather
10th Month25th Tsong Khapa memorialMemorial festival of Tsong Khapa's death - fires are lit on the roofs of the monasteries and lamps are lit
12th Month1st-7thNew Year FestivalNew Year Festival in Shigatse
12th Month5th-6thMeeting of the Eight GuardiansThe Meeting of the Eight Guardians and demons where Tibetans stay indoors to avoid evil outside
12th Month29thBanishing Evil SpiritsA "Devil Dance" is held to drive out all evil from the Old Year to prepare for New Year.


The Tibetan calendar is a lunisolar calendar. Losar is celebrated on the first three days of the first lunar month.

Gregorian yearTibetan yearLosar*element and animal
20002126February 5 - February 7male iron dragon
20012127January 24 - January 26female iron snake (or metal serpent)
20022128February 12 - February 14male water horse
20032129February 1 - February 3female water sheep (or goat)
20042130January 22 - January 24male wood monkey
20052131February 9 - February 11*female wood bird (or rooster)
20062132January 30 - February 1male fire dog
20072133February 18 - February 20female fire pig
20082134February 7 - February 9male earth rat (some Gelukpa cite Tibetan Year 2135 [five], starting 2008-02-07 at 03:44 GMT, also an annular solar eclipse)
20092135January 25 - January 27female earth ox
Pilgrims at Jokhang, Lhasa during Monlam IMG 1016 Lhasa Barkhor.jpg
Pilgrims at Jokhang, Lhasa during Monlam
Dancing at Sho Dun Festival, Norbulingka, 1993 Dancing at Sho Dun Festival, Norbulingka.JPG
Dancing at Sho Dun Festival, Norbulingka, 1993

See also

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