Ngari Darchen Kusheng, Saga Dawa Festival, Mt Kailash, 9 June 17
Marked as one of the most spiritual festivals in Tibet, The Saga Dawa Festival was established by General Gaden Tsewang with the blessings of H.H the Dalai Lama in 1681. This culturally significant festival is scheduled on 9 June 2017 to coincide with the first full moon on the fourth month in the Tibetan calendar.
The Tibetans believe that their mountaintops are the sites to which their early kings descended from heaven and so it is no coincidence that this deeply spiritual event is set amidst the breathtaking peaks of Mt Kailash- one of the most energetically potent locations in Tibet.
It is said that the month of Saga Dawa is so sacred that the merits obtained by the performing of good deeds in this time is multiplied tenfold. It is often for this reason that many Tibetans refrain from killing animals during this period.
This traditional and charming festival draws in crowds from all walks of life, from the religiously devoted to the curious traveller and is often used as an opportunity to showcase the open hospitality of the local Tibetans.
The entire event is guided and overseen by a Lama to ensure that all the religious rituals are completed, but the most significant ceremony of the day is undoubtedly the “Ngari Darchen Kusheng” -the hoisting of the prayer flags. Each year; to a crowd comprised of travelling pilgrims as well as both Chinese and Western tourists, the old Tarboche flagpole is brought down and new prayer flags replace the ones from the previous year. The intention for the ritual; to ensure the continual welfare of the Tibetan peoples. The crowd then flock to the new pole and attach their own small prayer flags to invite peace and prosperity into their lives. The flags are then left there all year to carry their prayers across the wind.
This celebration of the three most important events in Shakyamuni Buddha’s life; being his birth, nirvana and parinirvana (death), is truly a joyous occasion and one that encompasses all who attend in its fold. Though considered a religious occasion by many it is actually a day that casts aside all perceived barriers of race and religion, to allow all who attend to revel in a sense of community and connectedness.
Mt Kailash is located on the western tip of Tibet and can be journeyed from its nearest airport in Lhasa. As with all areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), all foreigners travelling to Mt Kailash must be on an organised tour and travel permits must be issued prior to entry.