17 Central Tibetan Administration Official Holidays (2021)
1st January, New Year
*26th January, India’s Republic Day: Republic day is celebrated to honour the Constitution of India which came into effect on this day in 1950. 26th January 2021 marks the 72nd Republic Day.
12th, 13th, 14th February, Losar, Tibetan New Year: The first day of the first month of Tibetan lunar calendar is marked as Losar, Tibetan New Year. Traditionally Tibetans celebrate Losar to signify harvesting the yearly crop by the farmers and celebrating the joy over good yield from the field before the beginning of next yearly cultivation. They make prayer offerings, hanging prayer flags, ceremonies, folk dances and friends and family reunions.
Three-day traditional observance of Losar in Tibet
The first day of Losar is called Lama Losar when the high ranking Tibetan Lamas and high-level Tibetan officials extend their greetings & respects to H.H. the Dalai Lama while the State Oracle goes in a trance. The general public greets their respective gurus and visits monasteries to offer prayers and attend sermons. All the Tibetan Buddhists greet their respective gurus and wish each other prosperity for the year ahead. Families visit monasteries to offer prayers and attend sermons.
The second day is King’s Losar when the Ringyen Tripa (One who represents ancient Kings of Tibet) offers Gyalsi Nadhun (traditional seven auspicious articles of royalty) to the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The third day is Choe-kyong Losar. On this day laypeople make offerings to dharma protectors with prayer flags, incense and ceremonies. This ends the traditional observance of Losar, subsequent celebration may go on till the 15th day.
27th February, Chotrul Düchen, Festival of Miracles: First of the four major Buddhist holidays, Chotrul Düchen occurs on the 15th day of the first Tibetan lunar month. It is also known as the Chonga Choepa or the Butter Lamp Festival. It is the final day of the Festivals of Miracles which lasts over 2 weeks. On the evening of this day, a huge butter sculpture measuring a size of 3-storey building is displayed outside for the public view.
10th March, Tibetan National Uprising Day: This day marks the anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising of 1959 against the People’s Republic of China and its occupation of Tibet. On 10 March 1959, the nation-wide Tibetan resistance culminated in the Tibetan National Uprising against the PRC in Lhasa. Thousands of Tibetan men, women and children were massacred in the streets, and many were imprisoned as a direct consequence of the uprising.
26th May, Saga DawaDüchen, Festival of Vaishakha: The full moon day of the fourth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is considered the most sacred day in Tibetan Buddhism. It is a day of honouring the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana. It is believed to be especially auspicious and beneficial to do virtuous deeds on this day.
24th June, ZamlingChizang: The 15th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is marked a Buddhist holiday to commemorate Guru Rinpoche’s subjugation of local demons and the successful completion of the first Tibetan monastery – the Samye monastery.
6th July, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday: The birth anniversary of Tibet’s supreme spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14thDalai Lama is celebrated all over the world and in Tibet.
Born on July 6, 1935, at Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. Post the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops in 1959. His Holiness was forced to escape into exile. Since then he has been living in exile, advocating peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect.
14th July, Chökhor Düchen, Festival of Turning the Wheel of Dharma: Third of the four major Buddhist holidays, Chökhor Düchen is marked to celebrate Buddha’s first turning of the Wheel of Dharma at Saranath on ‘The Four Noble Truths’. It occurs on the fourth day of the sixth Tibetan lunar month.
*15th August, India’s Independence Day: Independence Day is an annual observance to celebrate India’s freedom from 200 years of British rule. The first Independence Day was celebrated in India on the 15th of August in 1947.
2nd September, Tibetan Democracy Day: This day commemorates the anniversary of the establishment of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. On this day in 1960, the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration was officially established.
The Tibetan Parliament in exile consists of 45 members: 10 members each from the three traditional provinces of Tibet; 2 members each from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon religion; 2 members from Europe, 2 from North America and 1 from Australasia.
*2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti: This day is celebrated in honour of the birthday of the Father of India and leader of India’s Independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2nd October as the International Day of Non-Violence.
27th October, Lha Bab Düchen, Festival of the Descent from Heaven: The fourth major Buddhist holiday occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth Tibetan month. This day is celebrated to observe Buddha’s descent from The Heaven of Thirty-Three to earth. In order to repay his mother’s kindness and to liberate her, Buddha spent three months of teachings in the realm of the gods where she was reborn.
10th December, Nobel Peace Prize Day: This day is celebrated as the anniversary of the conferment of Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama. On 10 December 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end China’s repression of Tibet.
*Offices of Tibet may observe their respective national holidays
Important Tibetan Buddhist holidays also include:
NgenpaGuzom, The Day of the Nine Bad Omens: This day occurs on the seventh day of the 11th Tibetan lunar month. Buddhists refrain from doing any important work on this day.
ZangpoChuzom, The Day of the Ten Good Omens: This is a day for transforming all inauspicious situations into auspicious ones. A special day for merrymaking.