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Great Prayer Festival

Monlam, also known as The Great Prayer Festival, is the grandest religious festival in Ta’er Lamasery and other monasteries in Tibet. The date of the Great Prayer Festival is usually considered as 4th-11th day of the 1st lunar month, but in different areas, the days are varies. For the three great Monasteries of Lhasa, it is from the 4th to the 25th day in the first month. For Taer Monastery, it is form the 8th to the 15th day of the first month. For Labrang Monastery, it is from the the 3rd to the 17th day of the first month.

The main purpose of the Great Prayer Festival is to pray for the long life of all the holy Gurus of all traditions, for the survival and spreading of the Dharma in the minds of all sentient beings, and for world peace. The communal prayers, offered with strong faith and devotion, help to overcome obstacles to peace and generate conducive conditions for everyone to live in harmony.
According to the legend, in the first month of the year, Buddha conquered or converted six holy men of false religions. The event was established in 1409 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama's order. Monks from the Three Great Monasteries of Tibet assemble in Jorkhang to pray to Shakyamuni’s image as if it were the living Buddha.

Examination for the Geshe degree (the highest degree in Buddhist theology), which takes the form of sutra debates, is held. Philosophical debates are held among candidates for the Doctorate of Metaphysics. Pilgrims come from every corner of Tibet and donations are offered to monks. As the grandest religious festival in Tibet, mask Tibetan opera are performed and thousands of monks gather for chanting, showing the giant Buddha Thangkas, before the Jokhang Temple, attracting enthusiastic crowds of locals and pilgrims. Some people will even prostrate step by step all the way to Lhasa. They crowd to listen to sermons and make religious donations.

The highlight of the festival is the "Sunning of the Buddha" ceremony, during which a thangka of Buddha measuring 30 meters by 20 meters is unfurled on a hillside. The festival is accompanied by lively drama performances, dances, and prayer assemblies throughout the entire period.

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