Saga Dawa Festival 2020, Tibet – A Complete Guide

Tibet, one of the grandeur destinations of the central Asia is famous for its cultural element. Festival is an important window to enjoy the cultural beauties of any destination. Saga Dawa is the right festival to enjoy in Tibet if you are looking to enjoy the land as a local.

Saga Dawa is translated as the ‘month of merits’. This festival is celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists, even by a few Hindus. This festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. The entire month is focused on creating merits for the souls. Good deeds are performed, rituals are followed and many pilgrimage activities are conducted during this month. The main destination to visit during this festival is the Mount Kailash.

Saga Dawa Festival, Tibet

History of Saga Dawa

This is one of the ancient festivals, which was celebrated by the nomads who ended by settling in Tibet. This festival celebrates the month on which Lord Buddha was born. It was also the same month of his marriage and the month he died. This festival is also a welcome ceremony for the spring weather. Buddha was born on the 7th day of the month and on the 15th day of the month, he attained enlightenment. His death anniversary also falls on the 15th of the month.

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When is Saga Dawa Celebrated

The festival is celebrated on the fourth month in Tibetan calendar. According to Georgian calendar, the festival begins in May and end in June. Although the festival is celebrated throughout the month, the peak of activities and celebrations take place on the holy day of Saga Dawa Duchen. The 15th day of Month is known as Saga Dawa Duchen. This day falls on the fifteen day from the beginning of the festival. This day is considered to be the day when Sakyamuni (Lord Buddha) attained enlightenment and died.

Date of Festival during 2019 – 17th June

Date of Festival during 2020 – 05th June

Also Read : Eight Top Things to Do and See in Tibet

Where is Saga Dawa Celebrated?

Although every monastery and religious site in Tibet will be celebrating this festival, the best places to visit during this festival are

  1. Mount Kailash – Prayer flags, kora and rituals
  2. Lake Lhasa – Fish liberation, rituals and others
  3. Lake Manasarovar – Swan spotting, religious walk, holy dip and others
  4. DzongyabLukhang Park – Afternoon picnic
  5. Lingka – Gathering for song and music performances

How is Saga Dawa Celebrated?

The main celebration is the Kailash Kora. This activity is the ritual walking around the Kailash Mountain. This activity is enjoyed by Hindus, Buddhists and Bon pilgrimages too. People refrain themselves from killing animals for food. They even buy animals, which are meant to be killed and release them in their natural habitat as a sign of giving life to it. Locals are generous in giving alms during this month.

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Tourist Attractions during Saga Dawa festival

1. Colorful prayer flays will be erect throughout the region. Each prayer flag represents a prayer. If you are wishing for something, you can tie a prayer flag too.

Mount Kailash - Saga Dawa Festival at Tarboche

2. Visit early in the morning to watch Lamas perform rituals, erect the main flagpoles and perform ritual walks.

3. You can also enjoy monks performing ritual musical performances using woodwind instruments. This happens during flagpole erection.

Monk Rituals at Saga Dawa Festival

4. Visit the monasteries in the region. You can find all the monasteries decorated and full in charm for the festival.

Monastery in Saga Dawa Festival, Tibet

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5. Lake Mansarovar during this festival. The lake will be filled with swans, thanks to the climate. Circling the lake is also considered as a ritual during this festival. Bathing in this lake is considered a way to wash away your earthly sins.

Bathing at Mansarovar Lake

Activities to Enjoy during Saga Dawa Festival

  1. Kora is for avid pilgrimages. If you are looking for enjoying the region during the festival, it is recommended to cover the mountain in a car or horse.
  2. If you are ready to walk, the trail is just 52 km and it would take three days to complete the trekking.
  3. Walk around the flagpole for 13 times as it is said that this is equivalent to walking around the Mount Kailash.
  4. Take part in throwing color paper scraps with Buddhist scriptures into the air. This ritual ensures that the teachings of Lord Buddha reach every nook and corner of the world.
  5. Visit Lake Lhasa to watch people letting go of fishes into the water.
  6. Enjoy picnic in the foothills of Potala
  7. Watch locals in their traditional attire in Lingka. During evening, special dance and music performances will be conducted.
  8. Try the traditional Saga Dawa menu in the local restaurants.
  9. Enjoy leather boat trip and feast on any of the Dragon King Pool.

How to reach Tibet?

If you are flying to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, you need to fly to Kathmandu or China first. You can find direct flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chonging and others. From these cities, it would take 2- hours of flying to reach Lhasa.

Although not economical, you can find trains from many parts of China to Tibet. It would take 40 hours or more to reach Tibet from China, via train. If you love adventure, you can choose to travel via road from China. If you are traveling from India, you need to reach Kathmandu and from there to Lhasa. There is no direct flight.

Read More : Three Ways to Travel Tibet from India

Upon entering Tibet, you would be requested to provide visa. If you are planning to visit Mount Kailash, you need a military permit and Alien’s travel permit.

Get Complete Guide : Permits and Visa in Tibet

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