Lake Manasarovar Festivals and Activities
Most Tibetan festivals are full of the color of religion. In addition to annual large-scale worship rituals to Buddha and Buddhist masters, Tibetan people will also hold a series of festivities associated with religious life and agricultural production consisting of religious festivals and folk ones. There are almost a hundred festivals in a year, some of which even last for ten days.
Festivals in the Areas Around Lake Manasarovar
1. Saga Dawa festival(萨嘎达瓦节)
The Saga Dawa Festival hold on April 15 in the Tibetan Calendar, which usually falls on May or June of Solar Calendar. It is one of the holiest festivals of Tibetan Buddhists. During the festival, Tibetans will gather together in this area of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar to celebrate the most important annual festival there.
Saga means "the fourth" and Dawa refers to "month" in Tibetan. This festival is celebrated for whole month and is one of the most significant festivals celebrated in Tibet. But the fifteenth day of the month is very special as Sakyamuni was born, attained Nirvana (enlightenment), stepped into Parinirvana (death). Tibetans believe that it would accumulate immense of merits during that particular day by giving generosity, stopping killing animals and eating meats, etc. Monks chanting in monasteries, Cham dance and other religious activities dominate the occasion. The festival is called "Qiong ren Jie" in Chinese which means poor people's day because Tibetan people's generosity to the poor people is well known.
2. Tibetan New Year
On Tibetan New Year's Day, people bring their offerings and highland barley wine to their own crops to sacrifice the Harvest Goddess. Everyone in the ground sets up a long pole, hanging streamer on the top of the pole, and wheat straw bound on the lower. People build an altar in front of the pole, and then simmering mulberry, singing, dancing, begging the Harvest Goddess a booming harvest. There are lots of New Year entertainment. From the beginning of the second day, the men take part in horse racing and archery, the arrow is a wooden cone drilled a lot of holes, when arrows are taken away from the string, people begin dancing and drinking around the campfire.
Read more: Ngari Festivals and Activities
Activities at Lake Manasarovar
1. Lake Manasarovar Kora(转湖)
Another sacred place in Ngari, and another kora route walked by many pilgrims right after Mt. Kailash, is Lake Manasarovar. As one of the three holy lakes in Tibet(the other two are Namtso Lake and Yamdrok Lake), Manasarovar is the highest freshwater lake in the world.
Kora around Lake Manasarovar is a four-day walking route. Lake water perfectly reflects the blue sky and white clouds like a mirror. Walking 110 kilometers along the lake, you will pass 5 Buddhist monasteries along the way: Chiu Monastery, Langbona Monastery, Seralung Monastery, Trupo Monastery, and Gossul Monastery. Some monasteries have hotels, but most pilgrims camp outdoors, which gives you a better understanding of Kora around the lake.
2. Mount Kailash Pilgrimage
Every year, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. The Kora is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists. Followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counterclockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 kilometers long.
There are actually two Kora routes around Mount Kailash, inner route and outer route. The outer route is a common route for tourists and pilgrims, because it surrounds the whole mountain in a large circle, beginning and ending in the village of Darchen. Although the outer kora route around the mountain has been a difficult road, the inner kora route is even more difficult to walk.