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   Losar -- Tibetan New Year

Dates: Known as Losar, it starts from first to third of the first Tibetan month.
Place: Tibet

The Tibetan New Year is the most important festival in Tibet. It is an occasion when Tibetan families reunite and expect a better new year. Specially made offerings are offered to family shrine deities; doors are painted with religious symbols; and other painstaking jobs are done to prepare for the event.

On the New Year's Eve, Tibetans eat barley crumb food (Guthuk in Tibetan) with their families. Before the dawn on the New Year's Day, housewives fetch their first buckets of water in the new year home and prepare breakfast. After dressing up, people open their doors upon prayers and go to monasteries. People visit their neighborhoods and exchange their Tashi Delek blessings in the first two days. Feasting is the theme during the session. On the third day, old prayer flags will be replaced with new ones.

 Great Prayer Festival

Dates: It falls on January 4-11 of the Tibetan calendar.
Place: Tibet and Gansu Province

The Great Prayer Festival, known as "Monlam" in Tibetan, is the grandest religious festival in the year for Tibetans. It usually occurs in February of the Gregorian calendar. The event was established in 1049. Religious dances are performed and thousands of monks and Buddhists gather for chanting before the Jokhang Temple. Examination for Geshe degree (the highest degree in Buddhist theology), taking form of sutra debates, is held. Pilgrims crowd to listen to sermons and to make religious donations.

 Butter Lamp Festival

Dates: It takes place on January 15 of the Tibetan calendar.
Place: Tibet

The Butter Lamp Festival, or Chunga Choepa in Tibetan, falls on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month. The event was also established by Tsong Khapa to celebrate the victory of Sakyamuni against heretics in a religious debate. Various giant butter and tsampa sculptures, in forms of auspicious symbols and figures, are displayed on the Barkhor Street in Lhasa. By nightfall the street is brightly lit with thousands of lamps made of butter in an intriguing assortment of designs. People keep singing and dancing to pray for blessings throughout the night.

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