The Monlam Chenmo, also known as The Great Prayer Festival, is the most important Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the year. It falls on the 4th – 11th day of the 1st Tibetan Lunar month. Monlam means “wish-path” – the Buddhist path of helping others through the prayers. The Monlam Chenmo commemorates the Buddha’s enlightenment or fully awakening from ignorance. All the prayers are being sent to sentient beings in six realms (human realm, animal realm, hungry ghosts realms, hell real, demi-god realm, and god realm).
According to the Buddhist belief, time of Shakyamuni Buddha is considered as the time of Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) flourishment or the time of spiritual prosperity. However, it has already passed its peak, therefore, is gradually declining. During Monlam festival monks, nuns as wells as lay people are sending prayers in order to postpone and slow down time of decay.
Monlam Chenmo was established in 1409 by lama Tsongkhapa, the great philosopher and founder of Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The first festival was held in Jokhang in Lhasa, where thousands of monks gathered together for chanting prayers and performing religious rituals, such as Buddhist dances (cham), torma offering, giant thangka unveiling, etc. Due to all these rituals have been preserved, they are being performed every first lunar month nowadays.
Giant Thanka Unveiling
Tea party in Gomar monastery
Next Monlam Prayer Festival will be held on February 15-25th 2013.
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