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28july2011lithangDharamshala: - A Buddhist prayer festival, the 10-day Jang Gonchoe Chenmo, the fourth in a series of annual regional meetings, took place at Kham Lithang Gonchen Monastery (Lithang, Kham, Eastern Tibet) Tibet beginning 15 July. More than 5000 participants came from across the Kham region.

Chinese authorities had at first attempted to limit the number of those attending to 1000, but finally declined to interfere, though security forces reportedly remained camped nearby throughout the event.

At the ceremonies, Tibetans violated Chinese government orders and publicly enthroned a portrait of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with full religious ceremonial gaiety.

Organisers of the religious gathering had told local Chinese officials in advance of their plans to enthrone the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, stating that the organisers would not be responsible for the actions of the assembled people in the event of the religious procession being obstructed.

28july2011Kirti3A member of the Chitue (Tibetan Parliament in Exile), Mr. Atruk Tseten, told The Tibet Post that it was an extremely joyous and emotional moment for the Tibetans as they lined up in front of the throne to offer khataks (Tibetan prayer scarves).

"Many people told me that for the first time in their lives they felt as if they really could see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person and seek his blessings", Mr. Tseten said.

Buddhist monks from the host monastery were assigned to different duties, including security, festival finances, and to enforce that attendees followed the rules of the cermeony related to Tibetan culture and language. Participants were told to speak only in Tibetan and to wear traditional Tibetan clothing. Local authorizes were allowed to attend providing they followed the same guidelines.

Organizers discouraged civilian officials in the Lithang county seat from entering the monastery grounds, saying, ‘We will be doing some things you won't like,' Atruk Tseten said.

28july2011lithang2Around 100 monasteries representing all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Yungdrung Bon from eastern Tibet participated in the yearly congregation. The organizers defied official orders and sent an invitation to Ngaba Kirti Monastery (Amdo), which has been under Chinese government crackdown since March of this year.

Along with religious discussions, participants heard speeches related to social and cultural issues, including the importance of preserving the Tibetan language and the unity of Tibetans living in Tibet's traditional three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo-all now ruled by China.

"This had a great impact on the younger Tibetans attending, and helped to uphold their identity as Tibetans," Atruk Tseten said, citing information gathered from local officials and participants in the meeting.

The festival concluded on 25 July. There were no reports of any incidents of confrontation between local authorizes and attendants.

For more details on recent pictures of religious festival at the Lithang Monastery, please visit this link.

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