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Tibetan Buddhists make New Year pilgrimage|
by: 2006-02-26 10:30:38
At least 100,000 Tibetan Buddhists and tourists converged at Sera Monastery in the suburbs of Lhasa Saturday for a pilgrimage three days before the Tibetan New Year's Day.
The annual religious event held prior to the Tibetan new year is one of the major occasions for the Tibetans, who believe they can ward off disaster and hardships in the coming year by celebrating the Sera Bungchen Festival in the monastery, the third largest in Tibet.
The ceremony began at about 4:00 a.m., and the monastery's Living Buddha Qamba Ngagwang gave head-touching blessings to the long queue of believers, who would kowtow to a portrait of the "horse-headed king" and present Hada, a traditional white scarf, and sometimes cash.
Nearly 30,000 Tibetan Buddhists had paid homage by 10:00 a.m., and the ceremony is expected to last until 1:00 a.m. Sunday.
The celebration, which falls on the 27th day of the 12th month by the Tibetan calendar, was determined by the fifth Dalai Lama and has a history of about 300 years.
Zhoigar, an 80-year-old Tibetan Buddhist, said she felt "contented and secure" after the pilgrimage. "I'm not as strong as before, so it becomes difficult for me to walk all the way up here. But it's worth it."
The Sera Monastery was built by disciples of Zong Kaba, founder of the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, between 1403 and 1424.