Sky Burial

WHAT IS  SKY BURIAL? When a Tibetan person dies, the family lights butter lamps beside the deceased while monks pray and give blessings over the body for three to five days. During this time the body is not touched. The funeral day is determined by divination. Family members and relatives do not attend the funeral. Instead, they stay home and …

Khata

Khata

It is a Tibetan custom to offer a khata (ཁ་བཏགས།) or greeting scarf to friends, relatives or guests as a way of indicating your honorable intentions, and wishes of happiness. When given as a farewell gesture it symbolizes a safe journey. When given to arriving guests it symbolizes welcome. Why Do Tibetans Have the Custom of Offering Khata? Because there …

Mani Stones

Mani stone

Mani stones  (མ་ཎི་རྡོ་འབུམ།)are stone plates or rocks that are carved with the Tibetan Buddhism six-word mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. But nowadays people not only carve the six words, but also carve other texts from Buddhism. The Meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum The first word, Om, symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure …

Kora (Circumambulation)

Kora

Introduction: Kora (བསྐོར་བ།) is a form of pilgrimage and meditation that is shared by both Tibetan Buddhist and Bon traditions. The foundation of Kora is that, because of the trials of the pilgrimage, religious merit will be generated and obtained. Bodhicitta, or “an enlightened mind”, will result from purifying negative karma through the taxation of the body. Definitions: Kora – A …

The Lammergeier

The Lammergeier The lammergeier (བྱ་རྒོད། ) is the largest of the old world vultures and traditionally revered as the sacred bird of Tibet. The Lammergeier (which is German for ‘lamb vulture’) is also referred to as the Ossifrage (Latin for ‘bone-breaker’) and the Bearded Vulture. Corpses are offered up to these vultures through a Sky Burial in the belief that …

Windhorse

The Windhorse (དར་ལྕོག) is a legendary Tibetan creature, considered to carry prayers from the earth to the heavenly gods using the strength and speed of the wind. This basic symbol is thought to possess powerful energy—an energy that carries colossal power to the lives of all beings who come into contact with the wind.   Prayer Flags in front of Mt. Everest …

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (བོད་བརྒྱུད་ནང་བསྟན། ) is the major religion of Tibetans around the world. It covers the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism along with Tantric and Shamanic rituals, and is in some part influenced by Bon, the ancient, indigenous religion of Tibet. Apart from the traditions of koras, prayer flags, mantras, and sutras, Tibetan Buddhism is also known for the presence of …

Saka Dawa

Saka Dawa (also known as Saga Dawa) (ས་ག་ཟླ་བ།) represents the holiest and most sacred days in Tibetan Buddhism. Falling on the fourth month of the Tibetan Calendar, the religious festivities of Saka Dawa peak on the 15th Lunar Day when there is a full moon. This day is associated with three major events in the life of Shakyamuni Buddha – …

Nyingma Sect

The Nyingma sect (རྙིང་མ་པ། ) of Tibetan Buddhism is the oldest amongst the four schools and the second largest after Gelugpa sect. Nyingma in Tibetan means “ancient” and has roots going back to the 8th century when the indigenous Bon religion was strongly adhered to by Tibetans. The Nyingma sect is also known as the Red Hat sect because its …

Losar (Tibetan New Year)

The Tibetan New Year (བོད་ཀྱི་ལོ་གསར། ) is referred to as Losar. The Tibetan Calendar is based on the lunar calendar and consists of twelve (or thirteen) months. Losar starts on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan Calendar when the new moon is sighted. Oftentimes, Losar and the Chinese New Year begin on the same date, but …

Gelugpa Sect

The Gelugpa Sect  (དགེ་ལུགས་པ།)of Tibetan Buddhism, despite being the youngest, is the largest and most important school of thought. Having emerged in the 15th Century through the reforming efforts of Tsongkhapa, adherance to the Gelugpa sect is considered to be purest form of Tibetan Buddhism. The sect achieved its peak in the 17th Century with huge support from Mongols and …

Chorten (Stupa)

A row of chortens

Chorten or Stupa (མཆོད་རྟེན་དཀར་པོ།) is an important religious monument in Buddhism, symbolizing Buddha’s presence. It also holds precious Buddhist relics and sometimes even preserved bodies of renowned lamas. Tibetans believe that performing Koras of the monument is an act of high merit. Structure of Chorten The shape of the Stupa represents Buddha with a crown who is seated in a …

Bön (Tibet’s Ancient Religion)

Bön (བོན་པོ། )is the indigenous religion of the Tibetans of the ancient Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. As a shamanistic religion, it is characterized by mystic rituals, spells, sacrifices, and spirit manipulation. This religion involves much emphasis on meditative practice. It was the major religion of the people of Tibet before Buddhism found its way in the 7th century and has significant influence …