Posts Tagged ‘Dalai Lama

17
Apr
11

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet: The Panchen Lama’s seat

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is seat to the Panchen Lama, the second most imporant leader of Tibet. It is one of the Six Big Monasteries of The Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat Sect) in Tibet.

Also called the Heap of Glory, the monastery is located at the foot of Drolmari (Tara’s Mountain) in Shigatse. Founded by the First Dailai Lama in 1447, the monastery’s structure was expanded by the Fourth and successive Panchen Lamas. Tashi Lhunpo Monastery covers an area of nearly 300.000 square meters (3.229.779 sq. ft.). The main structures found in the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery are The Maitreya Chapel, The Panchen Lama’s Palace and The Kelsang Temple.

Standing on the entrance of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery, visitors can see the grand buildings with golden roofs and white walls. The remarkable Thangka Wall which is nine floors high was built in 1468. The wall displays the images of Buddha on the 14th, 15th and 16th of May every year following the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The images are so humongous that one can easily see it from Shigatse City. Visitors can find The Maitreya Chapel by strolling into the monastery on the west side of Tashi Lhunpo. You can tour the upper floors of the chapel using a wooden staircase to appreciate the superb skill of the Tibetans.

The Kelsang Temple is one of the oldest and biggest buildings in Tashi Lhunpo. It is a colossal compound. The Main Chanting Hall is a place for lamas to learn the sutras and listen to the Panchen Lama’s sermon.  Besides the grand palace and gigantic statues, the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery also treasures characteristic wall paintings. Because of the variety of shapes, resplendent colors and exquisite painting, the murals are considered to be another masterpiece of Buddhist art.

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05
Mar
11

March 5th: Tibetan New Year 2011

The Tibetan New year, known as ‘Losar’, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar. The ‘Losar’ festival is celebrated by Tibetan people, and is marked by ancient ceremonies that represent the struggle between good and evil, by chanting, and by the passing of torches through the crowds. A certain amount of levity is provided by events such as the ‘dance of the deer’ and the amusing ‘battles between the King and his various ministers’. The ‘Losar’ festival is characterized especially by its music, dance, and a general spirit of merrymaking. The 2011 Tibetan New Year takes place on 5th, March. To honor the Tibetan people, and to declare them my sympathy, I’m publishing some of my  Tibetan images together with this article.

‘Losar’, the Tibetan word for New Year, is composed to two characters: ‘Lo’, which means “year”; and ‘Sar’, which means “new”. The celebration of ‘Losar’ can be traced back to Tibet’s pre-Buddhist period. At that time, Tibetans were followers of the Bon religion, and held a spiritual ceremony every winter. During the Bon celebrations, people would burn large quantities of incense on a certain day of the year, in order to appease local spirits, deities and protectors. When Buddhism arrived in Tibet, the older “heathen” ceremony of Bon was simply incorporated into the Buddhist tradition of Tibet, becoming the Buddhist ‘Losar’ festival. The Buddhist ‘Losar’ festival originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet. 

The Tibetan calendar consists of twelve lunar months, and ‘Losar’ begins on the first day of the first lunar month. However, in Tibetan-Buddhist monasteries, the celebrations for ‘Losar’ begin on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth month. That is the day before ‘Losar’s Eve’. On that day, monasteries do a special kind of ritual in preparation for the ‘Losar’ celebrations. Also on that day, a special kind of noodle called ‘Guthuk’, which is made of nine different ingredients, including dried cheese and various grains, is made. In addition, people place various ingredients such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal inside dough balls, which are then handed out,. The ingredients that one finds hidden in one’s dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one’s character, in the spirit of a Chinese fortune cookie.

On New Year’s Day itself, Tibetans rise early, and, after having taken a bath and gotten dressed, they proceed to the household shrine in order to pay homage to the gods in the form of offerings. These usually consist of animal and demon shapes made from a kind of dough called ‘Torma’. In addition, it is on New Year’s Day that family and friends exchange gifts, much like people in the West exchange gifts on Christmas Day. Families and friends also share a hearty meal together, which usually consists of a kind of cake called ‘Kapse’, and an alcoholic beverage called ‘Chang’, which was traditionally drunk in order to keep warm.

On the first day of the New Year, celebrations are usually restricted to the immediate family. The city’s or village’s streets are generally very quite on this day. The second day of ‘Losar’ is the day for visiting with friends and relatives. On the third day, Tibetans in Lhasa especially visit the local monasteries, where they make offerings. Tibetan New Year usually last 15 days. Traditional ways of celebrating ‘Losar’ have changed somewhat through time. For example, fireworks is a relatively recent addition to ‘Losar’, but have grown in popularity until today they are possibly ‘Losar’s’ main attraction (at least among youths). These days, on the first day of New Year, good tidings ring out all across the country by means of the electronic media, and New Year celebrations are broadcast on television throughout the country.

22
Feb
11

The beautiful scenery of Tibet in autumn: The side of Yarlung Tsangpo River

There is a Galaxy in the heaven and a Sky River on the earth, which is Yarlung Tsangpo River. In Tibetan, Yarlung Tsangpo River means water flowing down from the crest. Found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, known as ‘the roof of the world’, the Yarlung Tsangpo River is the biggest river in Tibet and also holds the position as being the river found at the highest altitude across the world.

 Yarlung Tsangpo River originates from a glacier on the northern side of the middle Himalayas, over 5,300 meters (208,661 feet) above sea level. It runs across the south of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from west to east, through India and Bengal, and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal. Altogether more than 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) long with a catchment area of 935 thousand square kilometers (361,006 square miles), it is the fifth longest river in China.

Yarlung Tsangpo River Valley is rich in forest resources, owning 2,644 thousand hectares’ of virgin forest. Rare and unique plants and animals along with a natural treasure house of wildlife. The coniferous broad –leafed trees here appear in different colors in different seasons, green spots in spring and summer, and red, yellow, green in autumn and winter. It is well known as “five colored forest”. With the coming of the autumn, the golden autumn scenery attracts eyes of the tourists.

Water resources
Though people lack not wealth,
They cannot afford to breathe clean air,
Rains and streams cleanse not,
But remain inert and powerless liquids
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

02
Feb
11

The Potala Palace: Tibetan Holy site

The Potala Palace in Lhasa was the primary residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959, when the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala amid riots against the Chinese military occupation of Tibet. He remains in exile today. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-77), the remaining monks were expelled and  the abandoned palace was looted and damaged by Chinese soldiers.

Today the Potala Palace is a state museum, a popular tourist attraction, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also recently named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”. 

Only a few monks are allowed to occupy the Potala Palace under strict supervision and Tibetan pilgrims are not generally admitted to the shrines. The Chinese government operates the palace as a state museum and has recently renovated the building to attract foreign tourists.

Built on a rocky hill overlooking the city of Lhasa, the Potala Palace has a sturdy fortress-like appearance. It contains more than a thousand rooms spreading  over an area of 1.300 feet by 1.000 feet. The stone walls are 16 feet thick at the base, but more finely constructed (without the use of nails) in the upper stories.

The Palace is made of two main parts, easily distinguished by their color: the Red Palace and White Palace. The two are joined by a smaller, yellow-painted structure that houses the sacred banners hung on the exterior for the New Year festivals. The rooms inside the palace are identified by numbers as well as names. The palace is fronted by a great plaza at the south base of the rock, enclosed by walls and gates. A series of fairly easy staircases, broken by intervals of gentle ascent, leads to the summit of the rock.