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You are hereHomeTibet › Tibetan Festivals

Tibetan Festivals

Tibetan New Year
The greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times, when the peach trees were in blossom, it was considered the start of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD, the first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. On New Year's day, families unite, an "auspicious dinner" is offered, and the auspicious words "Tashi Delek" are greeted.
Great Prayer Festival
The greatest religious festival in Tibet. Instituted by Tsongkapa in 1409, the founder of the Gelukpa Sect. Monks from the Three Great Monasteries of Tibet assemble in Jorkhang to pray to Shakyamuni's image as if it were the living Buddha. Philosophical debates are held among candidates for the Doctorate of Metaphysics. Pilgrims come from every corner of Tibet and donations are offered to monks.
The Shoton Festival in Lhasa
On the First of the Seventh month, or August in Gregorian calendar, traditionally, after the monks are required to remain sequestered in their monasteries for the ascetic practice of Buddhism, people from their families prepared sour milk for them to drink with dancing following in their period of confinement. Shoton means ¡°Yogurt Festival ¡±. In the early 17th century, the Shoton festival became a joint performance with the Tibetan operas. Tibetan artists with different schools from all over Tibet came to gather in Norbu Lingka to have a performing competition, which lasted for several days. During this period, the Drepung Monastery would hold a large portrait of Buddha displaying ceremony.
The Saga Dawa festival
It is called ¡°the festival to free captive animals¡±in local custom. Through the whole fourth month, monks don¡¯t eat meat and don¡¯t commit slaughter. They only concentrate themselves on turning prayer wheels and reciting Buddha¡¯s scriptures.It is said that on the 1st of the fourth month is the day that Shakyamuni was born ,became enlightened and achieved nirvana.On this day every year, people in their holiday best, singing and dancing,go into parks for their dinner party.
The Wongkor (Bumper Harvest) festival
It is an occasion that Tibetans long for a bumper harvest. When the important moment comes, people in their colorful clothes uphold colored flags with good wishes. They make a pagoda of harvest with the ceremonial scarves twining round the highland barley and the wheat ears, beating drums and gongs, singing in their odes and walk around the fields in prayers for a bumper harvest, and then followed by a horse race. The autumn harvest starts as soon as the festival is over.
The Six Four Festival
On the fourth of the sixth month in Tibetan calendar, in Lhasa area, people in their new clothes go into temples nearby. With their offerings to Buddha, they pray to the Buddha¡¯s images for blessing in murmurs. After that, they go out into the open grass with drinks to their hearts¡¯ content and dance happily.
The Festival of driving out evil spirits
Every 29 th of the twelveth month in Tibetan calendar is a big day for the sorcerer¡¯s dancing held by monasteries all over Tibet. Households clean their houses thoroughly and decorate them beautifully. Because the New Year is coming, the dirty things and evils must be cleared away, people pray for their families for good health and wish a bumper harvest for the coming year.
Heavenly Maid Festival
It is well known as ¡°the Celestial Mother Festival¡± or ¡°Belha Rabzhol¡± in Tibetan. Each year, on the 15th of the tenth month in Tibetan calendar, religious activities are held in temples throughout Tibet. Tibetan women love the festival because they think this is a special occasion for themselves, therefore, they look very active and feel extremely happy.
Butter Lamp Festival
The Butter Lamp Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month every year. Monks from monasteries and local artists make various-shaped butter flowers with colored butter in pyramids in front the Jokhang Temple. In the evening, after the butter lamps are lit, their lights look just like stars dazzling in the sky. The pyramids made of butter include of immortals, animals, flying birds, beasts, and flowers.
Tsongkapa's Death Anniversary
It is held on the 25th day of the 10th month, which is in November or December in Gregorian calendar. It is the day on which Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gelug Sect met his demise. Every household light lamps on roofs of houses and windowsills chanting prayers in memory of Tsongkapa in the night.
Bathing Festival
In the 7th month in Tibetan calendar or in September in Gregorian calendar is the period, which the Venus appears only for seven nights in one year. Tibetan people think the water is specially holy and clean during this week. They believe that the dirt can be washed off, illness can be cured and their health can be improved. During the week, people all go to riverbanks for bathing, washing their clothes and playing at their pleasure.
Gyantse Horse Race and Archery
Horse racing and archery are very popular in Tibet, Contests in early times included horse races, archery, and shooting on galloping horse-back followed by a few days' entertainment or picnicking. Presently, ball games, track and field events, folk songs and dances, also form part of the celebrations.
Festivals Date
2009 2010 2011 2012
Tibetan New Year T.C Jan 1st Jan 1st Jan 1st Jan 1st
G.C Feb 25th Feb 14th Mar 5th Feb 22nd
Monlam Prayer Festival


Jan 4th Jan 4th Jan 4th Jan 4th
G.C Feb 28th Feb 17th Mar 8th Feb 25th
Butter Lamp Festival T.C Jan 15th Jan 15th Jan 15th Jan 15th
G.C Feb 11th Feb 28th Mar 19th Mar 8th
Saga Dawa Festival T.C Apr 15th Apr 15th Apr 15th Apr 15th
G.C Jun 7th May 27th Jun 15th Jun 4th
Gyantse Horse Race T.C

G.C Jul 20th Jul 20th Jul 20th Jul 20th
Thangka unveling Tashilunpo T.C

G.C Jul 7th Jun 26th Jul 15th Jul 3rd
Zamling Chisang/Samye Dolde T.C

G.C Jul 7th Jun 26th Jul 15th Jul 3rd
Choekor Duechen/Tukbe Tseshi T.C

G.C Jul 25th Jul 5th Aug 3rd Jul 23rd
Ganden Thangka Uneling T.C

G.C Aug 5th Jul 25th Aug 13th Aug 2nd
Shoton Festival T.C Jun 30th - Jul 6th Jun 30th - Jul 6th Jun 30th - Jul 6th Jun 30th - Jul 6th
G.C Aug 20th - 26th Aug 10th -  16th Aug 29th - Sep 4th Aug 17th - 23th
Labrang Festival T.C

G.C Aug 27th Aug 17th Aug 7th Aug 25th
Karma Dunba (shower festival) T.C

G.C Sep 6th Aug 26th Sep 14th Sep 2nd
Nakchu Horse Race T.C

G.C Aug 10th Aug 10th Aug 10th Aug 10th
Yushu Horse Race T.C

G.C Jul 25th Jul 25th Jul 25th Jul 25th
Litang Horse Race T.C

G.C  Aug 1st Aug 1st Aug 1st Aug 1st
Lhabab Duechen T.C

G.C Nov 9th Oct 29th Nov 17th Nov 6th
Palden Lhamo Festival T.C

G.C Dec 2nd Nov 21st Dec 10th Nov 28th
Ganden Nga-Choe T.C

G.C Dec 11th Dec 1st Dec 20th Dec 8th

 1. T.C Tibetan calendar
 2. G.C Gregorian calendar