Category: Buddhist holidays
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Buddhism in Tibet, Mongolia, Tuva, Bhutan, Kalmykia, Buryatia and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, and India (particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Dharamsala, Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim). It is the state religion of Bhutan. It is also practiced in Mongolia and parts of Russia (Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva) and Northeast China. Religious texts and commentaries are contained in the Tibetan Buddhist canon such that Tibetan is a spiritual language of these areas. Tibetan Buddhism preserves the Vajrayana teachings of eighth century India. Tibetan Buddhism aspires to Buddhahood or rainbow body.
The Tibetan diaspora has spread Tibetan Buddhism to many Western countries, where the tradition has gained popularity. Among its prominent exponents is the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. The number of its adherents is estimated to be between ten and twenty million.
Tibetan Buddhism comprises the teachings of the three vehicles of Buddhism: the Foundational Vehicle, Mahāyāna, and Vajrayāna. The Mahāyāna goal of spiritual development is to achieve the enlightenment of buddhahood in order to most efficiently help all other sentient beings attain this state. The motivation in it is the bodhicitta mind of enlightenment — an altruistic intention to become enlightened for the sake of all sentient beings. Bodhisattvas are revered beings who have conceived the will and vow to dedicate their lives with bodhicitta for the sake of all beings. Tibetan Buddhism teaches methods for achieving buddhahood more quickly by including the Vajrayāna path in Mahāyāna.
Buddhahood is defined as a state free of the obstructions to liberation as well as those to omniscience. When one is freed from all mental obscurations, one is said to attain a state of continuous bliss mixed with a simultaneous cognition of emptiness, the true nature of reality. In this state, all limitations on one's ability to help other living beings are removed.
The Tibetan Festival, Universal Prayer Day or Dzam Ling Chi Sang is a Tibetan Buddhist festival celebrated on the fool moon day of the fifth month in Tibetan Calendar. It is a time for spiritual cleansing. On the Universal Prayer Day, Tibetan people go to the tops of local mountains to burn incense and hang prayer flags.
Dzam Ling Chi Sang was originally meant to commemorate Guru Rinpoche's subjugation of the local deities and the founding of Samye Monastery. In Lhasa, there is the spectacle of large amounts of 'Sang' being burned up on the hills of Chakpori, Bumpari (on the southern side of the Kyi-chu) and Gephelri (behind Drepung Monastery), etc. 'Sang' is a Tibetan 'ritual fireworks'. There is a variety in selection of material for Weisang, like branches pine and cypress, leaves of herbs such as Artemisia argyi and heath.
Tibetans also hang prayer flags on tree tops, and build bonfires to worship the Buddha and local gods. Fire in the Tibetan culture is symbolic of cleansing. Family picnics are also common during the festival.
This is also the time of the once-a-year display of the famous giant thangkas, scroll paintings, at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet. Tashilhunpo (which means "heap of glory"), the seat of the Panchen Lamas, once had more than 4,000 monks. But the monastery was disbanded by the Chinese in 1960, and only a few hundred monks remain. At this time, three huge thangkas with images of the Buddha are displayed for three days on a nine-story wall on the monastery grounds. Thangkas, which are made in all sizes, were first known in Tibet in the 10th century, and were used in monastery schools as teaching devices. They were always consecrated before they were hung.
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