Grand Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo)
The Tibetan New Year celebration is followed by the Great Prayer Festival which celebrates the victory of Buddha Shakyamuni over demonic forces. The Monlam Chenmo, also known as The Great Prayer Festival, is the most important Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the year. It falls on the 4th – 11th day of the 1st Tibetan Lunar month. Monlam means “wish-path” – the Buddhist path of helping others through the prayers. The Monlam Chenmo commemorates the Buddha’s enlightenment or fully awakening from ignorance (Budha Miracle Day). All the prayers are being sent to sentient beings in six realms (human realm, animal realm, hungry ghosts realms, hell real, demi-god realm, and god realm).
According to our Tibetan buddhist culture, time of Shakyamuni Buddha is considered as the time of Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) flourishment or the time of spiritual prosperity. However, it has already passed its peak, therefore, is gradually declining.
Monlam Chenmo was established in 1409 by Lama Tsongkhapa, the great philosopher and founder of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The prayers are held at Sera Thekchenling Prayer Hall, which is the common prayer hall for both Sera Jey and Sera Mey. During the prayer festival, those who have newly obtained their degree of Geshe Lharampa would participate in the debate sessions held between the prayer sessions. People from the nearby Tibetan villages would visit Sera. In the afternoon, there would be traditional dances. This is in accordance with the Tibetan tradition of sealing the end of an auspicious occasion with another auspicious gesture.