The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Monlam Prayer Festival
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Monlam also known as The Great Prayer Festival, falls on 4th -11th day of the 1st Tibetan month in Tibetan Buddhism. [[File:1016_Lhasa_Barkhor.jpg|thumb|250px|Pilgrims at Jokhang, Lhasa during Monlam)]
As the greatest religious festival in Tibet, thousands of monks (of the three main monasteries of Drepung, Sera and Ganden) gathered for chanting prayers and performing religious rituals at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
In 1517, Gedun Gyatso became the abbot of Drepung monastery and in the following year, he revived the Monlam Chenmo, the Great Prayer Festival and presided over the events with monks from Sera, Drepung and Gaden, the three great monastic Universities of the Gelugpa Sect.
- "The main purpose of the Great Prayer Festival is to pray for the long life of all the holy Gurus of all traditions, for the survival and spreading of the Dharma in the minds of all sentient beings, and for world peace.
The celebration of Monlam in the Lhasa Jokhang was forbidden during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), although it had not been practiced there since 1959, and would not be hosted in Lhasa again until 1986.
During Monlam, monks stood on platforms to pray for the long life of the 14th Dalai Lama, boys threw rocks at observing police, and symbols advocating Tibetan independence and theocracy were displayed.
On the fifteenth day the highlight of Monlam Chenmo in Lhasa would be the "Butter Lamp Festival" (Chunga Chopa), during which the Dalai Lama would come to the Jokhang Temple and perform the great Buddhist service. Barkhor Square in front of the Jokhang would be turned into a grand exhibition site for the huge tormas.