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11:02 Jan 06 2011

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Winter Mahakala Puja celebrated in Tibet's stripe Sakya Monastery
10:58, January 06, 2011  

Sonam Pal, the master lama for this year's winter Mahakala Puja at Tibet's Stripe Sect base monastery - Sakya Monastery in Shigatse on the last day of 2010. Photo from, by Tenzin Wangmo.

On December 28, 2010 or the 23rd day of the 11th month on the Tibetan calendar, the Winter Mahakala Puja, the most significant religious event for Tibet’s Sakya Sect or the Stripe Sect in Tibetan Buddhism, was started in Sakya Monastery seated in Shigatse, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

According to religious rituals, all lamas in Sakya Monastery and thousands of followers from various regions first greeted the statues of 11 Arakkha Devata (warrior gods), and then enjoyed the giant-Mahakala mask dance on the square inside the monastery.

Created by Gongkar Rinchen, the great achiever of Sakya Sect, Sakya’s winter Mahakala Puja is usually scheduled for 7 days, from the 23rd day to the 29th day of the 11th month on Tibetan calendar, with 13 religious rituals conducted daily during the Puja.

As known, on the last day of the Puja, giant-mask Buddhist dances will be performed and five piles of body-length “dolma” (a kind of offerings made of tsampa) will be burnt into ashes as ceremonial consecration.

At the end of the winter Puja, what symbolizes a perfect wrapping-up usually involves cracking flames, muskets firing and earsplitting yelling and prayers spreading far away in all directions.

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