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kham-jang-gun-choe-2013Dharamshala: - Despite the heavy Chinese restrictions imposed on Tibetan monasteries, this year's Kham Jang Gun-choe, a winter Buddhist debate festival is being held in Tawu Nyatso Monastery, eastern Tibet, on Monday, June 10.

"The winter inter monastic debate meet will be held for 10-days from June 10- June 20, 2013 and Portraits of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama were reportedly enthroned at the opening ceremony," sources coming out Tibet said.

"Over 3,000 monks from 50 different monasteries of Kham traditional province of eastern Tibet are currently participating in the winter debate; the main participating monks from the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism; Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug and monasteries of Bon Sect in Kham region of eastern Tibet," Yama Tsering, a monk from Gaden Monastery in Sout India told The Tibet Post International (TPI), citing sources in the region.

"The Kham winter inter monastic debate meet is being hosted by Tawu Nyatso 'Thoe Sam Dhargye Ling Monastery' in Tawu county and co-sponsored by 25 townships in the county and surrounding areas," sources said.

'This had a great impact on the younger Tibetans attending, and helped to uphold their identity as Tibetans,' sources said, citing information gathered from participants in the meeting.

Sources stated that "some monks from other provinces of Tibet, including from Ngaba county in Amdho region are also participating in the festival."

"Monks have applied for planning permission to hold the festival, but local Chinese authorities have not given an answer. After waiting a month, finally they were allowed to host the 5th Kham winter Buddhist debate festival, but only for 10-days," Yama Tsering told TPI.

"Last year's festival couldn't take place after the local authorities have denied several requests made by monks. Instead of allowing the festival, Chinese authorities have imposed various restrictions in the region," he further added.

The 2011 Buddhist festival, the fourth in a series of annual debate meeting, took place at Lithang Gonchen Monastery (Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling,Lithang, Kham, Eastern Tibet) Tibet beginning 15 July. More than 5000 participants came from across the Kham region.

Local Chinese authorities that time 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 led by monks publicly enthroned a portrait of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with full religious ceremonial gaiety.

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 ceremony related to Tibetan culture and language.

The Jang Gun-choe or the Great Winter Debate of Janghas been a famous festival of Tibet just as many other annual festivals typical of traditional Tibetan Buddhism.

The Debate mainly consist of the earnest and most competent scholars from the great monasteries in Tibet.

Though later invasion of Tibet by Chinese military force, demolished thousands of monasteries and wiped out a number of Tibet's integral culture. Tibetan Buddhism in the Himalayan region also faced a serious deterioration, much of these important heritages such as the Jang Gun-choe festival were restored in exile and celebrated each year without fail to this day.

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