Saga Dawa Festival in Tibet

Saga Dawa Festival honors the life of Buddha. According to their tradition, when Buddha was dying, he instructed one of his followers not to honor him merely with flowers, incense and lights after he died but by striving to follow his teachings about living a noble life and being kind and compassionate. He urged people not to weep about his death but to remember that all compound objects like the human body must eventually disintegrate. In various Buddhist countries, people celebrate the holiday in different ways and on different days. The main activities involve going to temples, raising a tall prayer pole called the Tarboche Prayer Flagpole, and lighting a lot of butter lamps for the occasion.

Saga means “the fourth” and Dawa refers to “month” in Tibetan. This festival is celebrated for whole month and is one of the most significant festivals celebrated in Tibet. But the fifteenth day of the month is very special as Sakyamuni was born, attained Nirvana (enlightenment), stepped into Parinirvana (death). Tibetans believe that it would accumulate immense of merits during that particular day by giving generosity, stopping killing animals and eating meats, etc. Monks chanting in monasteries, Cham dance and other religious activities dominate the occasion. The festival is called “Qiong ren Jie” in Chinese which means poor people’s day because Tibetan people’s generosity to the poor people is well known.