Sangri County Festivals and Activities
Many festivals are held in Lhoka region in its counties, district, monasteries and villages to celebrate the harvest season, the New Year or Losar and natural elements such as birds. A colorful and widely celebrated festival is the Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival which is observed in June according to the Tibetan calendar, in the riverine areas to mark good harvests of the season.
As the crop-ripening time approaches, Tibetan farmers begin to celebrate the Ongkor Festival, which is prevalent in rural areas, especially in those areas along the middle reach of the Yarlung Zangbo River and Lhasa River Valley.
In Tibetan language, "Ong" means the field and "Kor" means walking around, so it means walking around the crop fields to express the farmers' yearning for a good harvest.
Each year at the crop-ripening time, often falls on the sixth or seventh month of Tibetan calendar, the monks of the monasteries nearby will select an auspicious day to stage the festival, during which the people, all dressed up, carrying barley beer and food, follow the monks, who hold high the Buddhist images, scriptures and prayer flags, and march around their ripening fields and yell for the deity's and Buddha's blessing.
Afterwards, they will have horse racing, archery contests and song and dance performances all night, shifting the atmosphere from solemnity to joyfulness.
The date of the festival in different places varies according to ripening of the crops. As long as you don't mind running from one place to another, you may possibly participate in several Ongkor festivals in a string.
Festival of birds
The festival for worship of birds is called in Chinese ’yingniao jie.’ It is a religious festival that is special to the Bon or Bonpo community, which still practices the original pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet known as Bön. During this festival, cuckoo, the spring bird, which is considered the king of all birds arrives in the naidong qiasalakang temple in Tsedang, the Bird’s temple; according to a specific Tibetan calendar date, corresponding to May as per Gregorian calendar. The festival is also observed in a different month at the Reting Monastery and celebrated till the Cuckoo is seen chirping and accepting food offerings in the monastery grounds. The bird temple has a large Buddha statue cast by King Baikezan. On this occasion birds are given a red carpet welcome at Linka with a tribute of food items such as the Tibetan Highland barley, wheat, peas and other grains on a platter placed on a table. Two butter lamps are also lighted near the table. Two lamas are specially deputed from Lhasa to organise and perform this religious festival. The first cuckoo bird known locally as “Kuda” arrives as a messenger of the Cuckoo king of birds and after a survey of the arrangements made in the Linka, the chief Cuckoo bird arrives formally by performing “Xiezha” at the grounds where a table is set with offerings for the bird. Arrival of these spring birds every year and hearing its chirping is considered as an auspicious sign by the Tibetan people to usher a good cropping season; the birds have been the mascot for Tibetan people since ancient times.