History of Saga Dawa Festival

The highlights of Saga Dawa Festival Tour 2013 will fall on May 25th. As an ancient festival, the Saga Dawa Festival is celebrated by people in different areas in differing ways. Tibetan Buddhists try to do what the Buddha said and give alms and pray. It is thought that praying and alms giving and doing acts of benevolence during Saga Dawa and in the holy month after this multiplies the merited return to the giver far more than on regular days.

The Tarboche flagpole replacing exercise is also an interesting event that takes place during the Saga Dawa festival. As people from all parts of Tibet gather here for this annual event, they bring small prayer flags to attach to the big flag that comes up with the combined help of the onlookers that come to witness the event. It is really fascinating to watch this event that is presided over by a Lama from the nearby monastery.

Many Buddhists around the world call the day Vesakha or Vesak from the Sanskrit name Vaisakha. The First Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists resolved in 1950 to urge that the day of the full moon in the lunar month be a day to honor Buddha. Though the holiday is still celebrated on different days around the world, it is considered by many to be the most important Buddhist festival day.

Circumambulation has been an ancient tradition of Saga Dawa Festival. There are three circumambulation routes in Lhasa. The first one is the Langkhor route in Jokhang Temple with a perimeter of 500 meters. The second route is Barkhor Street with a perimeter of 1000 meters. The third route is the Linkhor Street, which surrounds the old Lhasa city with a perimeter of 5000 meters. There are numerous followers of Tibetan Buddhism circumambulating on Langkhor Route and Barkhor Street every day. Tibetans would choose to circumambulate on Linkhor Street on the special and solemn Saga Dawa Festival.

There is another tradition on Saga Dawa – the beggars from various regions of Tibet would collect at South Deji Road in Lhasa for begging. Alms-giving on Saga Dawa has become a tradition for the Tibetans in Lhasa. Tourists planning to travel to Tibet during Saga Dawa Festival would have the chance to take part in the alms-giving and experience the different festival atmosphere. Tourists would also find that Tibetan Buddhism really influenced every aspect of the daily life of local Tibetans.

source: Tibettravel.Org, 25 Mar 2014

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