Tibetans go on pilgrimages to mark New Year's Day

09:21, February 15, 2010      

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Tens of thousands of Tibetans, dressed in traditional costumes, made pilgrimages to temples to pray for a peaceful and prosperous new year on Sunday, the first day of their traditional New Year.

The Year of the Iron Tiger in the Tibetan calendar began on Feb. 14 this year, exactly the same date as the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year. The coincidence has happened 18 times since 1950, according to experts of astrology and Tibetan calendar calculations.


Two girls of the Tibetan ethnic group attend a celebration for the lunar New Year of the Tiger according to the Tibetan calendar, in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Feb. 14, 2010. (Xinhua/Chogo)

Tibetan pilgrims thronged to temples in Lhasa, including Jokhang Temple, a spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism, from the new year eve to late new year's day.

The number of pilgrims to Jokhang Temple alone amounted to more than 100,000, said Lama Dawa of the temple. With a history of more than 1,300 years, it was put on the World Cultural Heritage List in 2000.

Pilgrimage is the most important activity for Tibetan buddhism believers on the Tibetan New Year's Day.


Dancers perform at the Longwangtan Park for the lunar New Year of the Tiger according to the Tibetan calendar, in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Feb. 14, 2010. (Xinhua/Gesang Dawa)

Dancho, a pilgrim from Xigaze, said, "I came here at 5 a.m. to pray for my parents and relatives and wish them a good new year."

"I want to pray for my parents and thank them for raising me up," said Kanmo Tsering, who came here with seven friends from Tibet's neighboring province of Gansu.

Like people of other ethnic groups in China, the Tibetans mark the holiday with fireworks, feasts and red couplets with rhymed phrases. They also patrol communities with torches to scare away devils and pray for good luck, while those in farming areas attend horse races and tug-of-wars.

The Tibetans enjoy a 10-day holiday for the new year, from Feb. 13 to 22.

The New Year's Day also coincides with the Valentine's Day. Many young Tibetans bought jewelry and flowers for their lovers or went to see films with them on the romantic day.

"The New Year's Day and the Valentine's Day fall on the same day this year. I need not only buy goods for the new year, but buy a gift for my girlfriend," said Cering.

Jigme, 18, bought roses for his girlfriend. Nyima, 32, and his wife Zhoigar, however, watched films as they spent each Valentine's Day in the cinema.

Source: Xinhua
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