Pal Lhamo Festival
Pal Lhamo or Dharmapala Palden Lhamo is one of the more wrathful female deities of Buddhism. Among her many roles, she is the special protector of the city of Lhasa, the Gelukpa Order, and the Dalai Lamas of Tibet. She was invited to Tibet in around the eleventh century from India.
Legend has it that she was once the queen of the demons of Sri Lanka. She flayed and killed her son due to his fate of destroying the dharma and Buddhism. She killed her son because he was going to destroy Buddhism and dharma when he grew up. In fury, the king, her husband shot her mule as she was escaping. The shot spot was healed by Palden Lhamo and turned into an eye to watch over Tibet.
When she died, she was sent to hell where she fought her way out and stole a sword and bag of diseases from the hellish protectors. Even when she escaped to the charnel grounds, she found no peace and begged the Buddha, Vajradhara for a reason to live. In response, the Buddha surprised her by asking her to be a protector of the dharma which she agreed to. So, therefore, depictions of Palden Lhamo are traditionally a bit different from the picture of the article.
Palden appears in a very wrathful form, she rides her mule through a sea of blood, surrounded by wisdom fire. The flayed skin of her son used as the saddle blanket on her mule shows that he did not agree to his mother’s request. She rides across a sea of blood. Around her waist is a belt hung with severed heads. She holds a skull cup in her left hand. These images of violence are understood by initiates as sacred symbols of inner transformation in a compassionate religious culture that shuns every form of action, thought or word that might be harmful to other living beings. This is a horrific story but do remember it’s a mythical tales. There are many ways to interpret this.
Since Palden Lhamo is only the female Dharma protector common to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the festival has become a special favorite of women around Lhasa. The one-day event is marked on the 15th day of the 10th month according to the Tibetan calendar.
Usually on that auspicious day, Barkhor Street will be filled with the smoke from burning juniper branches and the sound of prayers, as tens and thousands of Tibetan women visit Jokhang Temple to offer barleywine, fresh fruits, and incense sticks to the image of Pal Lhamo and Songtsen Gampo and asking their blessings out of the devotion. Young girls asking for money from any men on the occasion.
The image of Palden Lhamo in Jokhang Temple is formed in frog face as result of mischievous and disobedient to her mother. According to the legend story, the daughter of Palden Lhamo, which is called Pal Lhamo deity fell in love with Dripzongzen, who is also a protective deity of Jokhang Temple. When this was discovered by Palden Lhamo, she punished Dripzongzen by making him separate stay on the southern bank of Lhasa River, and the lovers only allowed to meet once a year across the river on that special day.
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