The Great Prayer Festival is purely a religious festival, and has a history of nearly 600 years.
It was initiated in l409 in Lhasa by Zongkapa, the founder of the Gelug Sect, for commemorating Sakyamuni. Since then it has been held between the 4th day and the 25th day of the first Tibetan month every year during which monks from different places are gathered in the Jokhang Monastery tore cite Buddhist sutras, lecture on Buddhism and debate Buddhist doctrines.
In the meantime, monks pursuing Geshi (the highest scholastic degree of the Tibetan Monkhood), eloquently answer loads of questions raised by the examiners. The pious Buddhist followers are crowded on the platform on the second floor of the monastery, lighting butter lamps and occasionally throwing money wrapped by a ceremonial scarf to the chanting lamas.
The l5th day of the first month is the Butter Lamp Day marking the climax of the festival, when the colorful lamps illuminate Barkor Street, the landmark street of Lhasa, and change it into a crystal wonderland.
These lamas are actually the butter sculptures molded of multi-colored buttered dough in various shapes, such as the immortal figures, human figures, birds and animals, flowers and trees, and so on, attracting huge numbers of people bustling in the street.
Then on the 24th day, people will gather on Lubo Square to participate in the ritual for expelling the evil spirits.
On the 25th day, the monks of the Jokhang Monastery will carry the image of Qamba Buddha and parade along the Barkor Street in conclusion of the festival.
Source: China Tibet Online
Copyright © 1997-2009 by www.people.com.cn. all rights reserved