Tibet — Festivals and Events
The heartland of the Himalayas, Tibet is an area shrouded in mystery and religion. The highest region on earth celebrates its unique landscape and diversity through a variety of festivals related to the arts and culture.
Tibetan New Year
Held at the end of December according to the Tibetan calendar, the New Year is the most important time in Tibet. Different areas have different ways of celebrating, but Lhasa is the most unique. Each household makes a “qiema” (a wooden measure for grain), “kasai” (fried twisted dough sticks) and “luoguo” (butter in the shape of a sheep’s head), signifying thriving animals and a good harvest in the coming year. In addition, they offer fruits, butter and tea to Buddha.
January 15 marks the end of the Tibetan New Year celebration. On this day, people head to temple to burn incense to worship. Butter lanterns are hung and lit in the shape of gods, flowers, birds, and animals.
Sagar Dawa Festival
It’s believed that in the middle of April in Buddhism Sakyamuni was born, became Buddha and died the same month. In and around Lhasa, this festival worships the god through processionals and readings.
Shoton Festival of Lhasa
“Shoton” in Tibetan translates to “sour milk banquet” which takes place for five days in August. Operas and paintings are a highlight, along with yak racing and displays of horsemanship.
The Bathing Festival is held the first ten days of July and is called “Gamariji” in Tibetan. The name of the planet Venus, bathing is said to provide health benefits during this period.
Ongkor is the harvest festival in August. An old farming tradition, major activities include horse racing, shooting, dancing, Tibetan Opera, stone holding and wrestling.
Horse Racing Fair and Archery Festival
Held in June/July when the horses are at their strongest, a great performance of agility and showmanship is held along with a craft fair.