Samyai Local Customs

  • Monk with mobile phone
    Monk with mobile phone
    by grets
  • Dalai Lama V
    Dalai Lama V
    by grets
  • Yak butter sculptures
    Yak butter sculptures
    by grets

Most Recent Local Customs in Samyai

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    Festivals 2007-2008

    by sugarpuff Updated Aug 5, 2007

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    Tibetan New Year - February 18th 2007 / February 7th 2008

    Butter Lamp Festival - March 4th 2007 / March 26th 2008

    Saka Dawa Festival - May 31st 2007 / June 18th 2008

    Shoton Festival - August 12th-18th 2007 / August 30th-September 5th 2008

    Bathing Festival - Middle ten days of September 2007 / Last ten days of September 2008

    Ghost-Exorcising Festival - February 5th 2008 / February 23rd 2009

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    Yak butter lamps

    by grets Written Oct 16, 2005

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    Yak butter lamp

    As well as being used to create sculptures, yak butter is also utilised as a fuel for butter lamps. Tibetans burn bowls of yak butter instead of candles as light, and the smell of yak butter is all over Tibet, in every temple, chapel and monastery. The faithful will carry either a thermos flask from which they will top up the burning lamps with hot, melted butter, or a plastic bag with hard butter which they will spoon into the containers in the chapels. Yak butter lamps are quintessentially Tibet, and one of the things I will remember most about my visit.

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    Yak butter sculptures

    by grets Written Oct 16, 2005

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    Yak butter sculptures

    Yak butter has a significant use in ceremonies. In particular, the 15th day of the first month is a high point of the Great Prayer Festival (Smom-lam), and is known as the "Butter lamp day." The festival started after Tsong kha-pa had a dream where beautiful flowers and trees appeared in front of Buddha. He commissioned monks to make flowers and trees with coloured butter for the first Smom-lam in 1409.

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    Dalai Lama V

    by grets Written Oct 16, 2005

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    Dalai Lama V

    The fifth Dalai Lama. Known as ‘The Great Fifth’, Lobsang Gyantso, is known as the Dalai Lama who unified Tibet and extended his authority to the fringes of Tibetan territory from Mt Kailash area in the west to Kham in the east. During his reign, Tibetan culture flourished – many monasteries were erected, and the Potala Palace was rebuilt. The Dalai Lama also invited Indian scholars to Tibet. At that time, Tibet operated under a form of government called theocracy, a system whereby the spiritual leader is also a king figure. Hence the fifth Dalai Lama became known as a god-king, combining religious and political responsibilities. He is shown holding the wheel of life to symbolise his new-found political power. He died in 1682.

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    The 21st Century has arrived at Samye!

    by grets Updated Oct 16, 2005

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    Monk with mobile phone

    Another very bizarre incident was inside the ground floor chapel in Utse. As we were walking around the chapel, a mobile phone started ringing. I was rather annoyed with my fellow travellers, that they couldn’t switch off their phone when in such a holy place, when I noticed a monk reaching inside his robe and bring out the latest fold-up camera phone. Unreal!

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    The Red Hat Sect

    by grets Written Oct 16, 2005

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    One of the Red Hat Sect masters

    In the ground floor chapel within the Utse, is a row of Red Hat Sect masters. The correct term for what many people call the Red Hat Sect, is the Kagyupa Order. This order of Tibetan Buddhism takes its lineage back through Milarepa and Marpa and eventually to the Indian mahasiddhas. It is divided into numerous sub-orders. The order emphasises the perfection stage of meditation and the practice of the Great Seal, which were introduced to Tibet by Marpa Lo-tsava in 1050 and Zhang Tselpa in 1150 respectively.

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    Never thought of this use for my corpse!

    by grets Written Oct 16, 2005

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    Human skull used as a cnadle holder

    One of the more bizarre items I saw inside the ground floor of Utse, the main chapel at Samye, was this candle holder. It is fashioned from a human skull!

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Samyai Local Customs

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