The Great Prayer - Labrang

32 images Created 31 Oct 2008

Labrang (ch: Xiahe).

In the tibetan monastery of Labrang (Gansu), every year three day after Lösar (new year's day) is celebreted Monlam Chenmo, the Great Prayer. Created by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa order in the fourtheenth century, the ceremony is the most popular event of the religious calendar. In Labrang, one of the six most important monasteries of Tibet, thousands of pilgrims come from far away to pray during the ceremonies. If it was forbidden during the Cultural Revolution, it has retrieved it's old popularity with the reopening of the religious community, but stays under the total monitoring of the chinese authorities. The last four days are the most important for pilgrims, where a giant thangkha is display on the hill next to the monastery, spiritual dances (Cham) are performed in front of the Great Assembly Hall, butter sculptures displayed at night, and the effigy of Maitreya carried around the monastery, along the pilgrimage path followed by dozens of pilgrims who hope for a better future.

----February 2009----
This year the monastery and the whole tibetan area was forbidden to foreigners by fear of political demonstrations as those which hold in 2008. Pilgrims outside Labrang where threatened by police if they attempt to come and participate to the festival.
In the same time, they had been encouraged by authorities to celebrate the new year that some tibetans wanted to boycott three day before to symbolize the mourning after deaths of the repression after march 2008.

Related story:
Tibetan Margins At the Crossroads
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