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The Saka Dawa Festival in Tibet


The Saka Dawa Festival falls on April 15 of the Tibetan calendar.

According to the legend, it was all on the 15th of the fourth month when Sakyamuni was born, achieved enlightenment and attained nirvana, so various activities are held to commemorate Sakyamuni in this month of every year. All the activities during the Festival constitute the large-scale activity of Zhuanjing (circumambulation).

Saka Dawa means the "Disu month" in the Tibetan language. Disu is one of the 28 astrological constellations of the Tibetan calendar. Because Disu appears in the fourth month, it is called the Disu month.

Pilgrims and secular people visit Lhasa, and the festival is observed by turning prayer wheels, having vegetarian lunches and a picnic at the Dragon King Pond. Sutra chanting, prayer turning, Cham dancing and other religious activities dominate the session.

Tibetans believe that one good deed equals myriad good deeds accumulated on other days. On this day, they keep from killing animals, refrain from eating meat and offer alms. Hence, it is also known as the Festival for Releasing Living Things.

Offering sacrifices to the female deity enshrined in the temple on the islet of the Dragon King Pond, boating in the pond and picnicking add to the festive mood.

During this period, hundreds of thousands of people turn their prayer wheels on the streets of Lhasa. Almost every person within Lhasa joins in the circumambulations round the city and spends the late afternoon picnicking at Dzongyab Lukhang Park at the foot of the Potala Palace.

In addition, Mount Kailash and Lake Mana Sarovar are regarded as holy ground for Tibetan Buddhism, and Hindusim and the Bon Religion in the Tibetan region. Sitting imposingly behind Lake Mana Sarovar, the snow-covered Mount Kailash is said to be the center of the world in Buddhism. Every year, pilgrims from Tibet and other regions of China as well as all over the world come for a blessing.

Swami Radha Krishna, Indian pilgrim, said, "Taking a bath here makes you feel that we've got something ancestral, and something very good, which our forefathers could not do, but we've done it. So, we have some strength."

He is joined by many more pilgrims and tourists who come each year to Mount Kailash, whether summoned by its pristine beauty or an inner calling to return to a common ancestral root.

Editor: Xu Xinlei