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Buddhist Holidays

  • Chotrul Düchen (Tib. ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་དུས་ཆེན་, , the ‘Festival of Miracles’. It occurs on the full moon (the fifteenth day) of the first Tibetan month, which is called Bumjur Dawa. The first fifteen days of the year celebrate the fifteen days on which, in order to increase the merit and the devotion of future disciples, Buddha displayed a different miracle.
  • Saga Dawa Düchen (Tib. ས་ག་ཟླ་བ་དུས་ཆེན་), the ‘Festival of Vaishakha’. It occurs on the full moon (the 15th day) of the fourth Tibetan lunar month, which is called Saga Dawa in Tibetan. It celebrates Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment and parinirvana. At the age of thirty-five Buddha attained enlightenment at Bodhgaya. This day also marks the anniversary of his parinirvana at Kushinagara as well as the day the Bodhisattva entered his Mother’s womb.

(During this time it is also customary to stop eating meat for two weeks until the day is finished.)

  • Chökhor Düchen (Tib. ཆོས་འཁོར་དུས་ཆེན་), the ‘Festival of Turning the Wheel of Dharma’ — one of the four major Buddhist holidays. It occurs on the fourth day of the sixth Tibetan lunar month. For seven weeks after his enlightenment, Buddha did not teach. Finally, encouraged by Indra and Brahma, he turned the Wheel of Dharma for the first time, at Sarnath, by teaching the ‘Four Noble Truths’.
  • Lha Bab Düchen (Tib. ལྷ་བབས་དུས་ཆེན་), the ‘Festival of the Descent from Heaven’ — one of the four major Buddhist holidays. It occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth Tibetan month. Buddha’s mother Mayadevi was reborn in Indra’s heaven. To repay her kindness and to liberate her, and also to benefit the gods, Buddha spent three months teaching in the realm of the gods. When he was about to return to this world, Indra and Brahma manifested three stairs of 80,000 yojanas each reaching this world in Sankisa. As the Buddha walked down the central one, they accompanied him to his left and right carrying umbrellas to honour him. He descended to earth in Sankisa, which is located in modern Uttar Pradesh, and which is counted among the eight holy places.