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Tibetan Bathing Festival

The Tibetan Bathing Festival is one of traditional festivals in Tibet. It usually lasts for seven days, from the 6th to the 12th of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar. It is also known as the Bathing Week.

The seventh month of the Tibetan calendar is thought the best time for bathing in Tibet. It is the time when the rain season has just ended and the sunshine has become caressing. The river water is sweet, cool, soft, light, clear and not smelly. What's more, the water temperature near riverbanks will exceed 20 degrees centigrade at the time. Therefore, the Bathing Festival is said the best time for Tibetans to get bath and cleaning. When the sacred planet Venus appears for one week in the southern sky, all the people in Tibet go into the river for bathing. They take carts or ride horses, bring buttered tea, wine and food together with them, set up tents or big umbrellas along rivers and then enjoy the whole day of bathing. 

Usually, Tibetans start the day with washing their quilts, clothes and shoes in the river first. At the noon time, they jump into the river naked. Male and female, young and old, swim, play games and bath themselves all together. In the afternoon, they drink, sing, dance and make a lot of fun until Venue reappear in the sky. They then pack up everything they bring and go back home separately.
There're many legends about its origin. Here is one of the stories: Once upon a time, there was a great doctor living in Tibet called the Medicine King. When he died, he became a god living in the heaven. One year, a terrible epidemic struck the whole Tibetan area, killing numerous people and cattle. Tibetans prayed to the Medicine King for his help. The Medicine King turned himself into a bright star. When the star shone over the hills, everything would be medicine. In this night, everyone in Tibet had the same dream: a new bright star rose in the sky and a dark slim girl went into the clear Lhasa River to bathe herself in starlight. When she got out of the water, she became healthy and beautiful. Tibetans then all went into the river to bathe themselves. After seven days, the new star disappeared from the sky, and all the sick had recovered from their illness. Since then, Tibetans used to bathe themselves in the river during this seven-day period and later developed it into a festival.

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