Foreword I II III IV V VI VII Conclusion
III. Folk Customs and Freedom of Religious Belief Are Respected and Protected
The state respects and safeguards the rights of the Tibetans
and other ethnic groups in Tibet to live their lives and conduct social activities in
accordance with their traditional customs, and their freedoms to engage in normal
religious activities and major religious and folk festival celebrations. As society
progresses, some decayed, backward old customs despising laboring people that bear a
strong tinge of the feudal serf system have been abandoned, which reflects the Tibetans'
pursuit of modern civilization and a healthy life as well as the continuous development of
Tibetan culture in the new era. The Tibetan people, while maintaining their traditions,
have greatly enriched their lives by absorbing many new cultural customs, as displayed in
dress and adornments, diet, residence, weddings and funerals.
There are many traditional festivals and fairs in Tibet, including the Tibetan New Year, Sakadawa Festival, Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival, Shoton (Yogurt) Festival, Bathing Festival, Butter Lamp Festival, Dharma Festival, Burning Offerings Festival, Garchachen Festival, and Horse Race Fair of Lhasa and the many festivals of other places. Religious festivals celebrated by monasteries include the Shimo Chento Festival of Tashilhunpo Monastery, Nganjo Festival of Ganden Monastery, Collecting Sutras and Religious Dance festivals of Samye Monastery, July Vajra Festival of Sakya Monastery, Erecting the Prayer Banner Pole Festival of Tsurpu Monastery, and Paltung Tanbo Festival of Radreng Monastery. In addition, the Tibetans also celebrate some national and international festivals such as International Working Women's Day (March 8th), International Labor Day (May 1st), Chinese Youth Festival (May 4th), International Children's Day (June 1st) and National Day (October 1st). Combining new concepts and the new culture of modern civilization with the fine aspects of traditional Tibetan culture, Tibet has formed new customs and habits with the characteristics of both the ethnic group and the times.
The Central People's Government and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have all along paid special attention to respect for and protection of the freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities of the Tibetan people. Since the Democratic Reform, religion-related cultural relics and historical sites, monasteries and temples have been well preserved at the behest of both the clerical and secular masses. The Potala Palace, the Three Grand Monasteries in Lhasa, Jokhang Temple and Tashilhunpo Monastery in Xigaze have been listed as important cultural relic sites under state-level protection by the Central Government. The murals, sculptures, statues, Thangkas (scroll paintings), artistic decorations, scriptures, offerings, ritual musical instruments and shrines of Buddha of those monasteries, as well as the scripture halls, worship halls, monasteries, temples and pagodas, the carriers of religious culture, have been preserved as far as possible or have been repaired or restored to their original condition. Especially beginning in the 1980s, the state has allocated large amounts of money for the reconstruction of some famous monasteries, including the Ganden, Yumbulagang and Sanggagorto monasteries, and the repairing of well-known but dilapidated monasteries, such as the Samye, Shalu, Sakya, Changzhug, Qamba Ling and Toling monasteries. The scriptures and classics of the Potala Palace, the Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery have been well preserved, with some edited and published as the Catalogue of the Classics of the Potala Palace, Ancient Books of the Snowland, and Origin of Religions by Deu. Now, Tibet is home to more than 1,700 monasteries, temples and other sites of religious activity, with over 46,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. Each year, religious activities are held and important religious festivals are celebrated on schedule in the Autonomous Region. The Tibet Branch of the Buddhist Association of China, an umbrella organization of the various sects of Tibetan Buddhism, now has seven prefecture (city)-level sub-branches, the journal Buddhism in Tibet in the Tibetan language, an institute of Buddhist theology and a Tibetan scripture printing house.