Festivals Falling in Winter Time in Tibet
Winter belongs to the off-season of Tibet tourism. The famous attraction Potala Palace no longer restricts the flow of tourists and visit time. There’s a discounts on air tickets. Train tickets are no longer difficult to buy, and cars, hotels and attractions have also introduced preferential policies. In winter, various folk festivals and cultural events featuring the “Tibetan New Year” are wonderful, and it is the best season to experience the feast of Tibetan culture.
Gongbu New Year, Nyingchi
Falling on October 1 according to the Tibetan calendar (in November or December according to the Gregorian calendar), Gongbu New Year is the earliest New Year in Tibet and even in China. On New Year’s Eve, the Gongbu people, according to the traditional customs of the Tibetans, eat the “gutu” noodles(古突面) and carry out the spirit-exciting ceremony. In addition to this, they should also ask their own dogs to have New Year’s Eve dinner. This is a unique custom of the Nyingchi Gongbu people in Tibet. The local people put walnuts, ghee, milk residue, tsampa, ginseng fruit, barley wine, beef, lamb, pork and other delicious food in the yard to be eaten by their own dogs. Gongbu people believe that what the dogs eat and do not eat at the 30th night is the will of the Buddha, and it is a sign of the harvest of the coming year. Eating tsampa or pancakes is indicated a bumper harvest; eating ghee or milk residue symbolizes the prosperity of the animal husbandry; eating walnuts or ginseng fruit represents the happiness and health of the whole family; drinking the barley wine means that the owners are happy for a long time.
Xiannv Festival (fairy festival)
Also called the “Tianmu Festival”(heaven mother festival), the Xiannv Festival falls on October 15 according to the Tibetan calendar and is considered the festival for Tibetan women. Religious celebrations are held throughout Tibet.
This day has evolved into a festival for Tibetan women. They will get up early and dress up, then go to the Barkhor Street in Lhasa to pray and go to the Jokhang Temple to offer Hada to the goddess and make a wish. Only this day, all women can ask for red packets or gifts from the men around them, and men will generally be generous. The annual “Fairy Day” is not only the day of the goddess, but also the days when women gather together, so they affectionately call it “Women’s Day.”
Randeng Festival (lamp lighting festival)
Falling on October 25 according to the Tibetan calendar, the Randeng Festival is celebrated to commemorate a great Tibetan reformer and founder of Gelug Sect, Zongkaba. Celebration activities include lighting ghee lights and singing religious songs.
Qugui Festival (ghost driving festival)
Falling on December 29 according to the Tibetan calendar, the Qugui Festival is celebrated to welcome the New Year. Grand Tiaoshen activities such as praying for good fortune the next year and household cleanings are held.
Zanglinian (Tibetan new year)
Falling on January 1 according to the Tibetan calendar, Zanglinian is the most important festival in Tibet. People start preparing for Zanglinian at the beginning of December according to the Tibetan calendar. People prepare tsamba, fried kernels and Renshenguo (a kind of tonic fruit in Tibet). On New Year’s Eve, people present the prepared food to images of Buddha. On the first day of the New Year, the first thing to do is to take a barrel of water home from the river, the first barrel of water in the new year is lucky water. On the second day, relatives and friends begin to visit each other.
Suyou Huadenghui (ghee lamp festival)
Falling on January 15 according to the Tibetan calendar, Suyou Huadenghui is celebrated by monastery worship in the daytime and the Barkhor Street lamp festival at night. There will be shelves of lamps representing various colorful images such as gods, birds, flowers and trees. Tourists can also enjoy a puppet show.