There are numerous festivals in Tibet; in the Tibetan lunar calendar, they appear almost every month. There are more than 100 major or minor festivals throughout the year involving different activities, including offering sacrifice to gods or ancestors, farming, commemorations, celebrations and social contact. Tibetan festivals can be grouped into traditional and religious ones, but there is some blurring of the lines.
Major Festivals in Tibet (Tibetan Time and Major Content)
Tibetan New Year
The most important festival begins on the first day of the first Tibetan month.
Grand Summons Festival
Held in the first half of the first Tibetan month. Monks gather in Lhasa for prayer and debate on Buddhist doctrines.
Held on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month. Butter lamps were formerly created to worship Buddha. Later on, these lamps are added with shelves, human figures, flowers, animals and birds for appreciation purpose.
Taking place in the first half of the 7th Tibetan month, when the Tibetans take a dip in rivers. The festival lasts for one week.
Shoton (Sour Milk Drinking) Festival
The festival nowadays includes Tibetan opera performance. It is therefore also referred to as the Tibetan Opera Festival. It lasts from the end of the 6th Tibetan month to the early days of the 7th Tibetan month.
Held generally between the 7th and 8th Tibetan months. Traditional horseracing is coupled with folk dancing, traditional garments show, and art performances. Activities are also held to invite investors and promote exchange of materials and tourism.
Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival
This is held to celebrate the bumper harvest at a time when crops are about to ripe. Festival activities include horse racing, archery and Tibetan opera performances.
Sagya Dawa Festival
Held on the 15th day of the 4th Tibetan month, it celebrates the day Sakyamuni was born and entered into Buddha-hood. On that day, residents of Lhasa go out into the streets for gatherings and parties.
Tsangmoling Gyisang Festival
In Tibetan the festival means “World Burning of Aromatic Plants”. This festival is held on the 15th day of the 5th Tibetan month each year. By then, the Tibetans in Lhasa visit lingka woods to sing and picnic.