Mount Kailash Travel & Yatra

Saga Dawa Festival, the Most Auspicious Festival in Tibet

18 November 2021 last updated at 12:33 0 Comments

Saga Dawa Festival Origin

According to the legend, the 15th of April in the Tibetan calendar is the day of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the founder of Buddhism, Shakyamuni. For Buddhist believers, it is an extraordinary and sacred day and named as Saga Dawa Festival. And local Tibetans regard this month as a time of good fortune and auspiciousness. During the Saga Dawa period, various Buddhist activities are held in Tibet temples and monasteries to commemorate Shakyamuni, and you can see the swarms of Tibetans making a pilgrimage to Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkor Street, Old Lhasa City, and Mount Kailash, etc.

Saga Dawa FestivalSaga Dawa Festival

When and Where to Celebrate Saga Dawa Festival in Tibet

The Saga Dawa Festival in Tibet is also known as Buddha's Auspicious Day. Held on April 15th in the Tibetan calendar, it often falls from the end of May to the middle of June in the Gregorian calendar. You can join our Saga Dawa Festival tour on June 14th, 2022, June 4th, 2023, and May 23th, 2024. The whole Tibetan April is regarded as the month of Buddha in the hearts of Tibetans, so chances are that you can join locals to experience kinds of religious activities and do the holy koras during this period of time.

Tibetans believe in Shakyamuni, so this festival will be celebrated where there are Tibetans. And as for foreign friends, the best places to celebrate Saga Dawa Fesitval are Lhasa and Mount Kailash.

Mount KailashMount Kailash

How to Celebrate Saga Dawa Festival with Local Tibetans

Watch Buddha Exhibition at Lhasa Drepung Monastery

The main activity on this day of the Saga Dawa Festival is watching the Buddha exhibition. When Lhasa's first ray of morning sun sprinkles on Genpei Wuzi Mountain in the western suburbs, locals and visitors have already gathered at the Drepung Monastery. Accompanied by the loud sound of Dharma horns and chanting, a huge Buddha Tangka of Sakyamuni with a length of about 40 meters and a width of about 37 meters is slowly unfolded on the platform at the Drepung Monastery, and the annual Saga Dawa Festival in Lhasa officially kicks off.

Make Pilgrimages around Lhasa City

Since the first day of Tibetan April, local Tibetans, young or old, have already started their pilgrimages around Lhasa City, namely, Nangkhor Kora (Jokhang Temple), Barkhor Kora (Barkhor Street), Tsekhor Kora (Potala Palace), and Lingkhor Kora (Old Lhasa City). On the fifteenth day of Tibetan April, Lhasa kora circumambulation reaches its peak. From 2:00 AM to the night, you can see the numerous Tibetans, men or women, dressed in festive costumes walking on the pilgrim circuits around Lhasa. I bet, you must be impressed by this spectacular view!

Enjoy Linka Activities in Lhasa Zongjiao Lukang Park

Saga Dawa Festival is a traditional festival for the Lhasa locals to celebrate at the Zongjiao Lukang Park (Dragon King Lake) behind the majestic Potala Palace. As time goes by, the Saga Dawa Festival has gradually evolved into a park festival for Tibetan people to enjoy the garden party and pray for a good harvest in agriculture and animal husbandry.

Alms Giving to Beggars at Lhasa Deji South Road

Saga Dawa Festival is also called as Beggar Festival. You will catch another amazing view happening on the Lhasa Deji South Road, where beggars from all over Tibet come to beg. On that day, almsgiving became a custom of the Tibetan people in Lhasa, following the tradition of the rich helping the poor. In recent years, it has even evolved into a highlight of Tibet tourism. It is highly recommended to participate in this kind-hearted donation. Just prepare enough change, and take pictures with respect to the locals.

Release Lives along the Lhasa River

Releasing a life on a religious auspicious day is an even more good deed. Thus, you will see locals assembling a spectacular release team along the Lhasa River. 

The original intention of release is to free the captured animals back to nature, but the pet animals, even if they are released back to nature, cannot survive, so it is not recommended to release animals that cannot survive in the wild.

Eating Vegetarian Food in Lhasa Restaurant

Eating vegetarian food is one of the most important ceremonies during the Saga Dawa Festival. During this month, eating vegetarian food and no killing is another way to do good deeds.

Simmering Mulberry at Lhasa Square

With the smoke billowing from the high simmering platform, and the cypress branches burst into flames, you will see local people scrambling to grab Tsampa from their pockets and throw them on the mulberry fire and then add one or two cypresses branches into them, and pray loudly in their mouth. After that, they walk over to the sacred stone and bow their head to worship, rubbing the stone wall with both hands infinitely solemnly and holy.

Trek around Mount KailashTrek around Mount Kailash

Take Kailash Kora

Generally speaking, the Saga Dawa Festival is one of the best seasons for Kailash Kora. At this time, the Gang Rinpoche area is gradually warming up. Although the temperature is still very low, it will not be too cold to trek to Mount Kailash. Moreover, during this time period, the rainy season has not yet reached the sacred mountain and holy lake area. Since the weather has good visibility, even if there is snow, you still can catch the more clear view of Mount Kailash under the bright sky.

If you plan to travel Tibet from May to June, you shall not miss experiencing the grandeur of the Saga Dawa Festival in Lhasa and Kailash. Try to arrange your itinerary around April 15 of the Tibetan calendar (June 14, 2022, June 4, 2023, May 23, 2024). If time is enough, you can join the locals and make the sincere pilgrimage to Mount Kailash.

If you want a comfortable and unforgettable trip to Tibet, you shall choose a reliable and experienced Tibet travel agency. And we, travelkailash, are always here to help you out. For a detailed Tibet tour group quotation, please consult our seasoned Tibet travel guru.

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