Saga Dawa Festival
Saga Dawa festival occurs in the 4th month of Tibetan lunar calendar, Saga Dawa is called the “month of merits”. It is the most important month. All the Buddhists believe that the result of positive and negative thoughts and actions in this month are multiplied 100,000 times. It is one of the important Tibetan festivals.
Buddha Shakyamuni was born, attained enlightenment and passed into Nirvana this month. During this month, everyone does their best to carry out as many meritorious actions possible. Large shoals of pilgrims around the Potala Palace, Barkhor Street and the wider circumambulation route around Lhasa town is a common sight.
Meritorious acts include pilgrimages to sacred places such as monasteries, temples, and stupas. People set animals free, give cash, food, and drinks to the beggars and the disadvantaged group. Many Tibetans also abstain from taking life, stealing things that are not given and eating meat. Instead, they make offerings to the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Parents advise their children not to harm any beings and to be kind to animals in general and especially during this month.
Raising up the colorful prayer flagpole at the foot of Mt. Kailash is seen to be one of the greatest events during Saga Dawa festival. Pilgrims from a different part of Tibet come and join the huge ceremonial flagpole with hundreds of colorful prayer flags attached to it. Before the ceremony starts, a group of lamas come closer to the flagpole and play woodwind instruments. When the music begins, pilgrims begin to walk around the prayer flags. As soon as the 25m high flagpole is raised, followers start to throw Highland barley powder on themselves, which is believed to bring luck. Thousands of pilgrims start to throw paper made colorful prayers into the air. They are believed to be carried by the wind to heaven. When the ritual is finished, part of the followers makes 13 circles around the flagpole and pray, and the other part starts their Mt Kailash sacred trek “Kora” which takes 2-3 days for the round.
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