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08:40 Feb 21 2010

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Tibetans worship Buddha during Tibetan New Year
08:39, February 21, 2010  

Thousands of Tibetans journeyed to temples, hills and riverside in Lhasa to worship Buddha, as well as the god of mountains and the god of rivers, praying for good luck during the Tibetan New Year holiday from Feb. 13 to 22.

Dola, 24, hung "Jingfan", colorful flags with Buddhist teachings written on them, on hills behind Sera Monastery in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Friday, an auspicious day on the Tibetan calendar.

It is a religious ritual for the Tibetans to hang "Jingfan" on the hills and conduct "Weisang", a pine branch burning ceremony, at riversides to pray for peace and a good harvest during Tibetan New Year holiday.

The Year of the Iron Tiger in the Tibetan calendar began on Feb. 14 this year, exactly the same date as Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year. The coincidence has happened 18 times since 1950, according to experts of astrology and Tibetan calendar calculations.

The Tibetans enjoy a 10-day holiday for the new year, from Feb.13 to 22.

Dondrup and his family prayed at Sera Monastery, one of the three leading monasteries in Lhasa alongside Drepung and Ganden, in the small hours of the new year's day.

"We have been worshiping at Sera Monastery for years," said Dondrup.

More than 10,000 religious believers worshiped at Sera Monastery every day during the Tibetan New Year holiday, said Tenzin of the Democratic Management Committee of Sera Monastery.

The number of pilgrims to Jokhang Temple alone, a spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism, amounted to more than 100,000, said Lama Dawa from the temple. With a history of more than 1,300 years,the temple was put on the World Cultural Heritage List in 2000.

"We have been praying at temples and the Potala Palace in the mornings and visiting friends and relatives in the afternoons since the second day of the new year," said Dondrup.

Dondrup and his wife, Pengqiong, are devout Buddhists. Their house has a prayer room with several Buddha statues.

Tsewang Sangpo and his family chose to worship at a small temple faraway from downtown Lhasa.

"It is not only a pilgrimage but also a family outing for us," said Tsewang who drove his newly-purchased sports utility vehicle to the temple.

The Potala Palace, covering over 100,000 square meters in Lhasa, was put on the World Cultural Heritage List in 1994.

Source: Xinhua

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