Tibetan New Year held at Tilba at Gulaga mountain temple

People get together to hang prayer flags in the trees at the Tilba Buddhist Centre.
People get together to hang prayer flags in the trees at the Tilba Buddhist Centre.

A 4000 year old tradition from the mountains of Tibet came to the sacred mother mountain Gulaga on February 14.

While others were out gifting flowers for the special people in their life for Valentine's Day, flowers of offering for the Tibetan New Year were laid at the Buddhist temple, Kamalashila, in Tilba.

The day had triple meaning as it was the day of love, the last day of the three day Tibetan Losar celebration for their New Year and held two days after the Chinese New Year.

Khenpo la guides guests to raise the tall Darchog flagstaffs.

Khenpo la guides guests to raise the tall Darchog flagstaffs.

The Buddhist tradition is to hang and raise prayer flags as well as conduct smoke ceremonies on the last day of the three day celebration, this ceremony is to make prayers for the world in the upcoming year.

The day started off with visitors hanging chains of Tibetan flags called lung ta between the trees, groups of people and families could be seen climbing ladders and tying them onto the trees.

Then the sound of a gong resounded across Gulaga mountain, as everyone gathered around the Buddhist monk that resides at the Buddhist Centre, Khenpo la.

Tsering Samdup alongside Kempo la in the juniper smoke ceremony at Tilba.

Tsering Samdup alongside Kempo la in the juniper smoke ceremony at Tilba.

Although Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe is the Tibetan monk's full name, every visitor and student call him Khenpo la and he is known for his profound smile and wise teachings.

With everyone gathered, Khenpo la explained that the next stage was to raise the tall Darchog flagstaffs, accompanied by loud and joyous chanting to raise the spirit and positive mind.

Before the flags were raised Khenpo la told the group that the history of raising flags in Tibet is very ancient, dating back 4000 years.

Guests were invited to put nearby leaves and branches into the canister to cleanse the soul in the smoke ceremony.

Khenpo la said the flags were traditionally hung up high in the mountains of Tibet, with the belief that when the wind touched the prayer flags it would carry the different blessings around the world and bless everyone.

This year they focused their prayers towards everyone in the world being able to overcome Covid-19.

There were five Darchog flagstaffs to symbolise the five elements which ran in the order of water, air, fire, grass and earth.

Once the flagstaffs were raised the ceremony proceeded with a juniper smoke offering and prayer blessing.

Here Khenpo la invited the guests to collect leaves off the ground and place them inside the canister, as this was done he asked them to visualise cleansing their mind from negative thought patterns and emotions.

The smoke ceremony symbolises the cleansing the environment, cleansing our negative emotions and thoughts. In Buddhism to defeat the enemy is to defeat the negative mind within.

Khenpo la explained that the positive mind is like a defensive armour against the negative thought patterns and emotions in our mind which bother us all the time.

The ceremony then proceeded into the temple where guests chanted with cymbals, drums and bells, the 'Sixteen Arhat Puja' which pays homage and offerings to Buddha and the 16 Arhats which means enlightened beings.

It all finished with a beautifully presented lunch of sweet rice and tea made by volunteers at the centre.

Tsering Samdup alongside Kempo la in the juniper smoke ceremony at Tilba.
This story Tibetan New Year held in Tilba first appeared on Bega District News.

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