Festival of Birds in Shannan

Festival of Birds in Shannan(迎鸟节)

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 the festival, cuckoo, the spring bird, which is considered the king of all birds, arrives in Tsedang Town. 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 Lhoka with a tribute of food items such as the Tibetan Highland barley, wheat, peas and other grains on a platter placed on a table. 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, for the birds have been the mascot for Tibetan people since ancient times.