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Monlam (Prayer Festival)

Usually February; 4th-25th days of first Tibetan lunar month
The greatest festival in Tibet follows the Tibetan New Year ( Losar) celebrations, and commemorates the miraculous powers of Buddha. The two-week festival was started in the 14th century by Tsongkhapa, the great reformist monk, to ensure that the new year would be successful and prosperous. It is a time to attend examinations of and make offerings to monks, to light butter lamps, and above all to socialize, get the latest news, and watch sports events such as wrestling, archery, and horse racing. On the 15th day celebrants throng to Lhasa's famous Jokhang temple, where monks have created enormous butter sculptures. ( See Butter Sculpture Festival.) A procession around the Barkor, the old city of Lhasa, carries a statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha.
When the Chinese denounced religious observances in 1959, the festival died. It was revived again in 1986, and has been observed since, although not with the grandeur of earlier days.
Office of Tibet
Tibet House, 1 Culworth St.
London, NW8 7AF United Kingdom
44-20-7722-5378; fax: 44-20-7722-0362
BkHolWrld-1986, Mar 9
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 82
RelHolCal-2004, p. 217
References in periodicals archive ?
Several hundred monks marched from the monastery after officials banned them from praying, calling to be allowed to celebrate the Monlam prayer festival and for authorities to release all Tibetan prisoners," the group said.