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Saga dawa festival Tibet – Dates and how to travel there

Sagadawa festival tibet

Saga Dawa Festival Tibet gives you a complete spiritual experience. The main point of the festival is to pray for the long life of all holy gurus, as believed by Buddhists. This entire experience leaves you with a distinct feeling of reverence and self-satisfaction.

Saga means “the fourth,” and Dawa refers to “month” in Tibetan. This festival is celebrated for the whole month and is one of the most significant festivals. It celebrates in Tibet and also in Nepal these days. This festival coincides with three significant events in his life.  birth, nirvana, and death. It says that the Saga Dawa festival falls on the holiest month of the Tibetan calendar. The good deeds and prayers are multiplied thousand fold during this event.

It is, therefore, hundreds of Tibetan people circumambulate around the Barkhor. Tsekhor(Circuit around Potala), and Lingkhor. Which is one form of good deed? Tibetan people refrain from killing animals and giving out alms to needy people. During this festival, a large number of pilgrims come to Lhasa to visit the monasteries. Take part in the ritual walk around the Lingkhor path. Being in the area during Saga Dawa is a rare opportunity. and not one that is missed too, therefore we have this Saga Dawa Festival Tour for you.

Saga Dawa festival in Tibet is one of the best festivals

Saga Dawa Festival Tibet Tour offers you one of the ideal opportunities. you can see local people celebrating one of the most important festivals.  in the Tibetan lunar calendar, and a chance to experience this unique culture firsthand. Visitors not only get to watch and experience intense Buddhist activities. They also get to join in with the prayers, kora, and the offering of tips to the poor. One can spend time touring some of the monasteries of Tibet during this holy month-long festival.

Celebrations are going on all over Tibet. The Saga Dawa festival is one of the greatest and most famous. We can find it at Tarboche at the foot of Mt. Kailash. However, you will need a special permit to visit. We “Above the Himalaya” are very experienced in this, and we can help you quickly get the permits without any trouble.

Saga Dawa Festival, Tibet: 2023

When should I travel for the Saga Dawa Festival in 2023? The Saga Dawa Festival is highly significant to all Buddhists worldwide. In Tibet, it is the most important religious celebration. The Saga Dawa Festival is observed on the fifteenth day of the fourth Tibetan lunar calendar. According to the solar calendar, the Saga Dawa Festival will be celebrated on June 4, 2023.

It is a day designated to remember the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana. The majority of Tibetans chose not to work today and shut their businesses. And they go to monasteries in the morning before going on a kora, or tour, of the sacred area in Lhasa, for the remainder of the day.

How is Saga Dawa celebrated?

Saga dawa is being performed under the local lama’s (a spiritual guru’s) prayers. Hundreds of saga dawa are being conducted under the prayers of the local lama, a spiritual leader. In front of it, hundreds of people sit or stand to pray. In addition, people visit Dzongyab Lukhang Park, a park close to the Potala Palace. In the late afternoon, they organize a large outdoor picnic there. People will continue to burn butter lamps at the temples. Butter lamps are just processed yak butter or oil in a vase with a burner. The lamps provide a smoky light.

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, many lights are considered beneficial for meditation and mind-focusing. Drums and cymbals, two often utilized musical instruments in Tibetan rituals, were played as accompaniments to draw on the spirits or drive away evil. A local lama, a spiritual leader, will be present to bless the upcoming year. Local devotees give alms to the monastery, which accepts them in any form one may afford.

The replacement of the “Tarboche flagpole,” when it is taken down and a new one is erected in its place, is the most significant element of the event. The prayer flagpole is a tall pole from which hundreds or perhaps thousands of prayer flags in various colors are strung. All residents and visitors observe the pole replacement ceremony with utter fascination and amusement.

Each prayer flag indicates a wish for the prayer to be granted. The flags are allowed to flutter in the air to improve the likelihood that someone will respond. According to a legend, Tibet is in trouble if the pole is not properly uprighted. Therefore, it is believed to be crucial to correctly set up the pole. So only the best pole-sitter is authorized to carry out the task. If it is put up correctly, people feel pleased and relieved.

Moreover, it is the best place to see colorful native costumes during the festival. Anytime they have a free hand, they carry a small, portable prayer wheel that is attached to a stick and spin it. Local tea shops provide a respite from the constant battering of inhospitable natural elements. The region’s craggy cliffs and tall, snow-capped mountain peaks add to the rough beauty of the landscape and enhance the spectacle of the Tibetans performing their religious rituals.

Where is Saga Dawa celebrated?

Saga Dawa is celebrated by Tibetans in Lhasa at the base of the Potala until late in the day. In reality, the Tibetans now perform this as part of some type of annual ceremony. Every year on this day, the people will dress, sing, dance, have a picnic, or unite in Linkor.

The Saga Dawa Festival is also held on Mt. Kailash, Tibet’s holiest peak, in addition to Lhasa. During the Saga Dawa Festival, tens of thousands of Tibetan Buddhists would go to visit the holy mountain. In addition, destinations during this holy holiday vary according to the people and their preferences, to mention a few:

Jokhang Temple: Kora, monk chanting, and rituals

Potala Palace: Tibetan Buddhists come from all places to perform rituals, kora, and chanting

Lhasa Lake: Rituals, Fish Freedom, and Other Things

Mount Kailash: Rituals for raising flagpoles and a 3-day kora

Lake Manasarovar: holy bath, walk for worship, and more

Why is Saga Dawa celebrated?

Why is the Saga Dawa festival celebrated by so many Tibetans and by Buddhist prayers? The saga dawa is a traditional event in Tibetan Buddhism that takes place in the fourth lunar month. It’s because the Buddha attained enlightenment on the fourth day of the full moon in the month of his birth.

The Saga Dawa is also known as bumgyur Dawa, which translates to “merits multiplied by a hundred thousand times.” So it is also regarded as the month of merit and prosperity. Tibetan Buddhists all across the globe put in additional effort to practice the Path to Enlightenment, charity, and kindness in order to increase their positive merits and eliminate their bad karma. The primary purpose of the celebration is to pray, along with commemorating Buddha and his acts. The event is mostly dominated by religious activities like cham dancing and monks chanting at monasteries.

The festival is also known in Chinese as “Qiong Ren Jie” (The Poor’s Day). This refers to the day of the poor due to the Tibetan people’s well-known kindness to the underprivileged. At the same time, it is for the preservation and propagation of Buddha’s teachings in the minds of all sentient creatures for world peace. Moreover, many believers claim that the festival season’s main purpose is to pray for the long lives of all of the holy gurus from all religions.

History of the Saga Dawa Festival

The Saga Dawa Festival celebrates Buddha’s enlightenment. According to Buddhist history, when Buddha was near death, he gave one of his disciples the advice to strive to live up to his teachings about leading a noble life and being kind and compassionate rather than simply honoring him with flowers, incense, and lights when he passed away.

Instead of mourning his passing, he asked people to keep in mind that all composite things, including the human body, must inevitably degrade. In various Buddhist regions, people celebrate the occasion in diverse ways, on different days, and according to their own customs and traditions.

Saga Dawa is one of the most important holidays, and it is observed for a month during this festival. However, the fifteenth day of the month is particularly significant since it marks the birth of Sakyamuni, his enlightenment (Nirvana), and his journey into Parinirvana (death). By being generous, abstaining from eating meat, and taking other actions, Tibetans think they will gain a great deal of merit on that specific day.

For physical preparation for the Saga Dawa festival, people go vegetarian for one month. Thus, a large number of Tibetans avoid animal killing throughout the month. Some people bow down before monasteries, others throughout the city of Lhasa, while others chant more. Tibetans observe this day not just as Buddha’s birthday but also as the day he attained enlightenment and passed away.

The Sanskrit term Vaisakha, also known as Vesakha or Vesak, is how the day is known to many Buddhists worldwide. In 1950, the First Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists made the decision to advocate for declaring the day of the lunar month’s full moon as a day to celebrate Buddha. Although the holiday is still observed on various dates across the world, many people view it as the most meaningful Buddhist feast day.

Saga Dawa for Visitors

Everyone engaged in the Saga Dawa Festival, even the visitors, experiences a very spiritual experience. Since the major purpose of the event is to pray, there is a certain aura of respect throughout the festivities.

You are about to go on a journey around Mount Kailash in Tibet, one of the holiest destinations in the world for Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and Bons. Additionally, you will show up or attend at a really fortunate time. A saga Dawa celebration is being held to commemorate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and demise. An essential part of the celebration is the “Tarboche flagpole.” New prayer flags are given by pilgrims each year to replace the worn-out ones on the pole. It is lowered, the flags are switched, and the pole is raised under the guidance of the lama of the nearby monastery. The pole must stand straight when it is raised, which is crucial. For Tibet, this foretells a fruitful year.

The pilgrims come from various parts of India, Nepal, and Tibet. Others travel by bus or vehicle, while others just stroll. Few people enter by prostrating, which is done by touching their head, throat, and heart with their two hands. Afterward, while on your hands and knees, touch the earth with your forehead. These actions are being taken out of respect for the Buddha, his teachings, and the wider spiritual world.

Many people will only proceed to make a kora or round of Mount Kailash alone after receiving blessings and prayers from monks or during a puja. While some may prostrate the entire way, which might take up to two weeks, the majority traveled by foot, which can take up to three days. All of this is being done to bring good fortune and make amends for lifetime sins.

The kora is conducted on Mount Kailash, the holy mountain in Tibet.

Moreover, tourists may participate in this event by joining Kora in the prayers in addition to witnessing and experiencing serious Buddhist rituals. They can also give tips to the less privileged (poor people) on how to convey happiness and kindness. Later in the month-long celebration, they can spend time exploring some of Tibet’s monasteries.

Mount Kailash is located in the Ngari Region, in the westernmost part of Tibet, not far from the Nepali border. It is the area’s tallest mountain, rising to a height of 6,638 meters. Every year at Saga Dawa, the kora is conducted on Mount Kailash, the holy mountain in Tibet.

The route to Kailash is difficult and drawn out, taking travelers through a remote area that frequently resembles the high-altitude wild west. Tourists are drawn to this location because it resonates with spiritual energy through limitless tranquility. They experience Tibet as being holy, pure, and enigmatic.

As long as you have the appropriate paperwork, a guide, and a vehicle, traveling to Kailash should be pretty simple. Since it is forbidden for tourists to go alone in Tibet, everyone visiting Kailash must reserve a trip through a reputable travel agency. They will arrange for your Tibet Travel Permit and Military Permit to provide you entry to the region.

Enjoy the traditional rituals

It will be a treat to watch the traditional rituals with your own eyes, and being involved with them is like getting positive energy yourself. In addition to this, the view of the surroundings will be a blessing. The Sunkoshi River, which has the color of jade and originates in Tibet and is a component of the Koshi or Saptkoshi river system in Nepal, is traversed by this trek.

Then, you must obtain authorization to cross to the Tibetan side at the Nepalese border checkpoint known as Kodari. Since 1968, a crossing has been in use between Zhangmu and Kodari. However, it is presently being repaired after being completely devastated in the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

You will see Tibetan holy “mani wheels” that have prayers or mantras written within. They are physically spun around to create air movement to send the wishes for a safe return home higher into the skies. You will see several yak horns connected in front of them. They believed that yak horns warded off evil spirits. The surroundings are desolate, rocky, and barren. You will travel past the equally beautiful Mansarovar Lake.

Furthermore, camping beneath Kailash’s face as seen through the transparent window from you. You will have a divine experience on a spectacular full moon night that will last until the early hours of the morning. Seeing Mount Kailash glow gold as it is exposed to the morning sun’s first rays will make you feel as though life is providing energy. The four faces of Mount Kailash each have their own distinct beauty, traits, moods, and auras.

The significance of Mount Kailash in the Saga Dawa Festival

The height of Mount Kailash, also known as “Kailasa” in Sanskrit, is approximately 6638 meters (21778 feet). It is the highest peak in China’s most rocky mountain range, the Kailash, which is part of the Tibet autonomous area. It is also referred to as the entrance to paradise and as redemption from sin.

The lakes Manasarover and Rakshasal are close to the mountain. Additionally, it is not far from the sources of several of Asia’s longest rivers, including the Indus, Karnali, Sutlej, and Brahmputra. Four main religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Bon—consider Mount Kailash to be an extremely holy place. Due to Mount Kailash’s significance to religion, climbing it is absolutely forbidden.

A tradition that dates back thousands of years is the circumambulation of Mount Kailash during the Saga Dawa festival, a 52-kilometer (32-mile) long, strenuous walk at a high altitude. Hindus and Buddhists do the parikrama, also known as the Kailash Kora, in a clockwise route, whereas Jainists and Bonpos do it the other way around.

One of the most prominent pilgrimages in Asia is the kora around Mount Kailash. One kora around Mount Kailash is thought to atone for sins committed during this lifetime. While 108 koras guarantee nirvana after death and end the cycle of reincarnation.

According to legend, the north face of Mount Kailash is more significant and exhibits a protective aspect through its meticulous, conservative, and forbidding nature. The calling of Kailash is also supposed to become all-consuming at that point, and all efforts are directed at Mount Kailash. It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to purify the body, mind, and spirit. The toll has on one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health during the experience and culmination of it It’s a rebirthing through purification.

 

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    Saga Dawa Festival Tibet Tour – Trip Info

    Tour Duration: 15 days

    Joining in: Tibet

    Trip Grade: Difficult

    Maximum Altitude: (5,245m)

    Best time: Autumn (August, Sept, Oct), spring (March April) summer (May, June July)

    Guide: Government-certified tour & trekking Guide

    Lodging: Twin sharing a guest house/hotel accommodation private room. During the trekking sleeping in the tent, a single supplement will be available by a separate supplement fee.

    Food: Breakfasts Lunch and dinners (typical Tibetan cuisine )

    Detailed Itinerary of Saga Dawa Festival Tibet Tour

    Day 01: – Welcome to Kathmandu Airport

    We will be present there at the airport for your convenience to greet you and transfer you to your desired hotel. As you become comfortable and freshen up after your long journey, you will be asked to pay your visit to our office for a briefing about your program. You will have a meeting with your trekking guide and discuss the equipment needed for the trekking, and we will process the trekking permits. If you arrive at night, we will have the same discussion in next day morning after breakfast.

    Day 02 – A full days sightseeing tour of Kathmandu valley:

    After breakfast, our guide will accompany you on a tour of sightseeing around the Kathmandu valley. You will visit the Hindu temple complex at Pashupatinath (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the biggest Buddhist Stupa at Boudhanath. You will also visit Swyambhunath, a 2000-year-old temple that is popularly known as the monkey temple. Moreover, you will enjoy Patan City which is famous for its fine arts and historical architecture. Back to the hotel.

    Day 03 – Kathmandu Fly to Lhasa

    On your arrival in Lhasa, a cultural city in Tibet we will meet our Tibetan guide at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Taking it to show the rest of today, you can adjust to the altitude easier and quicker. We are recommended to drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep for making an adjustment to the long journey ahead. Overnight at Hotel.

    Day 04: – In Lhasa Sightseeing

    Today in our Saga Dawa festival Tibet tour you will visit Lhasa including Potala Palace, which is the oldest palace of the Dalai Lama, the first Buddhist temple of Tibet, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Market which is the traditional Tibetan market of Tibet. Overnight at Hotel.

    Day 05 – Lhasa Via Gyantse(3,950m) to Shigatse(3,900m) 360km

    After breakfast drive to Gyantse to visit Yamdruk Tso Lake. Enjoy the Gyantse visit covering major highlights and continue your drive to Shigatse. Today you will explore Khumbum Chorten, Pelkhor monastery, and Tashilumpu monastery. Overnight at Hotel.

    Day 06 – Shigatse Via Lhatse to Saga (4,450m) 495km

    After breakfast drive is mostly bypassing typical Tibetan settlements along the road. This area is also known as nomad land with Himalayan background along the road. Overnight at Guest House.

    Day 06 – Shigatse Via Lhatse to Saga (4,450m) 495km

    After breakfast in our Saga Dawa Festival Tibet, leave for Tarchen (the beginning stage for Kailash Parikrama). It is one of the energizing days strolling along the beautiful rough bluffs; waterfalls with a few veils of the mist-liberated blue sky make you feel that Great God Shiva is all over the place with massive amounts of gifts to you. From time to time, we will start seeing Mount Kailash.

    Day 07 – Saga to Mansoravar( 4,590m)277km

    After breakfast, you will long drive as we pass Paryang – a small Tibetan town, and continue driving to Mansarovar Lake. Enjoy the exploration of the Holy Lake in Tibet on a full moon day. Overnight at Guest House.

    Day 08 – Mansoravar to Darchen (4,575m) 44km

    Mansarovar is the lake of compassion, tranquility, and bliss. After completing the memorable morning bath and worship. We will be heading towards Darchen. It is considered a base camp for the Holy Kailash Parikarma. Overnight at Guest House.

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      Day 09 – Darchen to Dirapuk 13km.

      It is one of the most exciting days walking along the beautiful rocky cliffs, and waterfalls with some clouds in the clear blue sky making you feel that the Great God Shiva is everywhere with tons of blessings to you. From time to time the face of Kailash Parbat will keep on appearing. Overnight at Guest House.

      Day 10: – Dirapuk to Zuthulphuk by crossing Dolma La Pass(5,613m)

      Today is the highlight day for our Saga Dawa Festival Tibet tour, We will cross Dolma-La pass between two valleys. Yamasthal should be crossed to reach the Shiva -that while your steps go closer to the pass. From the top of the pass, you will reward with the best view of the Kailash. Trek down by passing Parvati Kunda. By the late afternoon, we will reach Zuthulphuk. The great ascetic Milerappa is supposed to have performed miracles here. The incredible parsimonious Milerappa should have performed supernatural occurrences here). Overnight at Guest House.

      Day 11: – Kailash Parikrama and drive back to Saga 450km

      After walking for 3 hours all the driving crew will be waiting for your arrival. Today you will leave the holy palace. By the late afternoon, you will reach Saga.

      Day 12: – Saga to Kerung(2,800m)375km

      After breakfast drive to Kerung. Overnight at Hotel.

      Day 13: – Kernug to Kathmandu (1,310m) 165km

      After breakfast drive to Kathmandu all process necessary formalities at Nepal and Tibet border. Overnight at your Hotel.

      Day 14 – Kathmandu free day.

      Today is a free day in Kathmandu, you can do shopping, look around Thamel Can visit Dreams of Gardens, In the evening we will have a farewell dinner.

      Day 15: – Final Departure Airport

      Today is free or at the last minute. You have a few hours of unique shopping for your relatives. If you have more time, you can do some shopping or sightseeing. We will drop you at the International airport to catch your flight back to your home and wish you a safe journey.

       

       

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