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Butter Lamp Festival 2019 and the 600th Anniversary of the Parinirvana of Tsongkhapa

Time: 2020-01-07 11:13:34

On December 21, 2019, befell Tibet’s Butter Lamp Festival, which is held annually to commemorate the parinirvana of Tsongkhapa, on the Tibetan Lunar calendar’s October 25. The commemoration usually lasts for one day. And the activities include lighting up butter lamps on the shrines and roofs of the monasteries and temples as well as in the households of laypeople, and keeping them burning all night.
Butter Lamp Festival  
Butter Lamp Festival Ceremony 

What made the Butter Lamp Festival of 2019 different from the previous ones, was that it was the 600th anniversary of Tsongkhapa’s ascension to parinirvana. Jokhang Temple, Ganden Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery all held the traditional ceremonies to express the gratitude to Tsongkhapa and pray for the wellbeing of living creatures. 

During the past festival, butter lamps were lit up with the characters of “600” to pay tribute to Tsongkhapa. The numerous lamps illuminated brightly, making a touching image of light river, which was magnificent and beautiful to behold.

Knowledge about the Butter Lamp Festival and Tsongkhapa

Tsongkhapa was the reformer of Tibetan Buddhism and the founder of the Gelug Sect, the current dominant school of Tibetan Buddhism among the five main sects. 

Butter Lamp Festival
Butter Lamp Festival in Lhasa

He was born in 1357 and died on October 25, 1419, according to Tibetan lunar calendar. When Tsongkhapa was a primary Buddhist monk, he was a devoted learner whose study involved eclectic sects then, absorbing the doctrines from Sakya School, Kagyu School and Nyingma School and some subsects. He strictly abided by the principles of Buddhism and praised deeds matching with words. He also spared no efforts to spread the spirit of Tibetan Buddhism, and gained his reputation through hard practices and philosophical achievements. Tsongkhapa was believed as the embodiment of the Manjusri Bodhisatta, also addressed respectfully as the Second Buddha. 

During his time, The Tibetan Buddhism was going through its degeneration and suffering from the political struggle. Tsongkhapa wanted to create something totally different from the already corrupt religious systems. The religious reform led by Tsongkhapa, passed on by his disciples, had then brought a renaissance to Tibetan Buddhism. 

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