The Bathing Festival usually falls on the first ten days of July according to the Tibetan calendar. Lasting a week, it is also known as the Bathing Week. The bathing practice has at least eight-hundred-year history.
In Tibetan, it is called “Gamariji,” meaning Golden Star, or Venus. As the star rises to the sky, the mass bathing starts. As the star sets, the bathing ends. The legend goes that bathing at this period is beneficial to health and according to Tibetan Buddhism, the water in Tibet at this time has eight advantages: sweet, cool, soft, light, clear, clean, un-harmful to a throat, nor to belly. Judged from the natural environment and climate of Tibet, the river water has a relatively high temperature and is suitable for bathing.
During the seven days, tens of thousands of Tibetan men and women take along various foods, butter tea local barley beer and go to river or lake to have baths. The tents, big or small, dot the beach into a colorful world. Usually, local Tibetans kick off the day by washing their quilts, clothes, and shoes in the river first. At noontime, when the river water gets warms enough for bath, they jump naked into the river for bathing. Male and female, young and old, all swim, play games and bathe together. In the afternoon, most people like having a party inside the tents or under the trees, where they drink, sing and dance until Venus reappears in the sky. Then they pack up and return to their homes.
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