Giant Buddha image displayed at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Updated: 2014-07-13 21:02
By Palden Nyima (chinadaily.com.cn)
This photo shows a giant thanka at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet's Xigaze prefecture.[Photo by Palden Nyima/chinadaily.com.cn]
Thousands of people gathered to pay homage as monks unrolled a thangka – giant religious silk embroidery - to mark the third day of Buddha Images Show Festival at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tibet's Xigaze prefecture on July 13.
Religious officials of the monastery said the ritual is part of ceremonial prayers for rain that would help local people to have a bumper harvest.
They also said the ritual dates back 500 years, and the two thankas displayed during the last two days are the original ones that were first displayed hundreds of years ago.
The monastery also said the "three-day-event is practiced annually from the 14th to the 16th of the fifth month according to the Tibetan calendar."
Images of the previous Buddha Amida, and the present Buddha Gautama were displayed during the first two days, and the next Buddha Maitreya was displayed on the third day," said Nyandrak, deputy director of the Management Committee of the monastery.
The ongoing show includes a newly made giant image of the next Buddha Maitreya, which is Champa in the Tibetan language, Nyandrak said.
This show is especially important because it fulfills the 11th Panchan Lama's wishes to celebrate his 25th birthday, he also said.
Tibetans believe the 25th year of life is especially difficult and, in order to prevent any misfortune, Tibetans carry out certain religious rituals when they reach the age of 25, local residents said.
According to the monastery, the thanka on display measures 45 meters in length and it is 29 meters wide - and it took 25 tailors and 90 other workers almost seven months to complete.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is the official coronation place of the successive Panchan Lamas, and a similar thangka was displayed for the 9th Panchan Lama when he reached the age of 37, Nyandrak said.
More than 20,000 Tibetans from around the region lined up early in the morning to pay their respects, and this tradition is still well preserved thanks to the good religious policy of the central government, according to the monastery.
"I am already an old man, and I am very pleased to be here to pay homage to the future Buddha, I wish all living beings health and peace," said Tobchen, a Tibetan man from Tibet's Rinpung county.
The 75-year-old also said it used to take him four to five days to get to the monastery on foot or by horse but nowadays it only takes two hours by bus.
Monks slowly unrolled the thangka on a mountainside behind the monastery, accompanied by the sound of horns.
Tibetan Buddhists offered their white hadas - a white silk scarf that signifies goodwill, purity and good fortune.
"I am surprised to see such an age-old tradition is still well preserved by local Tibetans, and I am impressed with how Tibetans value this giant artistic work," said Lars Erik, a tourist from Denmark.
Monks said that when it does not rain the ritual can be done before 8 am in the morning but, as it rained this year, they waited for it to stop raining and only started at 11 am.
The Buddha Images Show Festival of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is one of the grand festivals of Tibet's Xigaze prefecture during the summer, Nyandrak said.
"I feel very peaceful and very spiritual here," said Wayna, 38, an Australian tourist.
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