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article imageTibetans celebrate Monlam Prayer Festival

By Sravanth Verma     Mar 16, 2015 in World
Lhasa - Tibetans celebrated the Monlam Prayer Festival, one of the largest Buddhist festivals in Tibet, attracting thousands of devout Buddhists and curious tourists.
The festival includes chanting by lamas, drums and pilgrims singing hymns at the Labrang Monastery in the Gansu province of Tibet. The monastery, constructed in 1709, is one of six major lamaseries of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat School of Tibetan Buddhism, to which the Dalai Lama also belongs. The festival is held in the first lunar month as per the Tibetan calendar.
The main draw of the festival is the huge Thangka, a sacred painting of the Buddha on silk canvas, that is brought out each year. Watching the sun's first rays hit Labrang's 600 square meter Thangka, measuring 20 by 30 meters, is said to bring blessings upon the beholder, who then lays a scarf next to the painting. This particular ritual is also known as the "basking of Buddha" or the "sunbathing Buddha festival," which is part of the larger celebration of Monlam. The thangka is also used by monks as a meditation tool, and is emblazoned with a saying and quote of Buddha, which translates to: "There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind".
Monlam at Lhasa.
Monlam at Lhasa.
Wikimedia Commons
The Monlam festival was first conducted in Tibet in 1409 by Tsong Khapa, the founder and first lama of the Geluk school. It is celebrated throughout Tibet, and also in Bodh Gaya in India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment.
Several other rituals make up a part of the festival, which includes a series of religious activities at the monastery, conducted by monks and attended by devotees. Captive animals are freed, and the lively Cham dance with msked dancers also takes place. Monks also gather at the Grand Sutra Hall of the monastery to recite Buddhist scriptures six times a day for several days.
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