Mount Kailash stands tall in the Western Tibetan plateau in all its grandeur and magnificence. Although Kang Rinpoche, as it is called in Tibetan sees footfalls (not to the peak of course, which is the heavenly abode of Gods and Goddesses) all through the year, the Saga Dawa festival brings more observers to the area! And the Tibet festival tours give special significance to the Saga Dawa conducted in the month of June in Mount Kailash.
The Mount Kailash, as we know is one of the holiest and most sacred mountains of the world. The mountain is not just religiously sacred and significant to the Bons of the area, but the Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus too. This is one of the reasons why Mount Kailash sees a lot of people coming all through the year to worship in reverence the abode of the Gods from far.
The Saga Dawa Festival
The festival of Saga Dawa begins in May and ends in June. The starting and the ending of the festivities depend upon the lunar calendar of the Tibetan Buddhists. The ‘Saga Dawa’ can be translated as the ‘Month of merits’ and therefore, celebrates the life of Buddha in various stages such as the birth, death and the enlightenment of Lord Buddha.
Since the month has so many merits to place, it is auspicious of all the months, and therefore, considered a perfect one for taking a pilgrimage. The Tibet festival tours are organized to bring pilgrims and visitors from across the world to various religious places. But the most significant of the places of visit that the pilgrims explore is Mount Kailash, especially during the month of Saga Dawa.
Practices and festivities of the month of Saga Dawa
Unlike the other festivals where the glitters and artifacts are in place, Saga Dawa is more sacred. The festival in celebration of birth, death, and nirvana of the Sakyamuni or Buddha, therefore, is observed by sparing the animals and insects or anything else from killing. Many bring such animals as crickets and fishes and release them in Mount Kailash, a way to indicate their lives have been spared.
These custom plays a very important significance to the Buddhists of Tibetan origin. They believe that the lives of those who release the insects are prolonged due to this ritual.
A kora or circumnavigation of the Mount Kailash is also an important ritual performed by the pilgrims during the Saga Dawa. One round or circumambulation of the holy Mount Kailash is considered to be equivalent to 100,000 times on any other holy place.
The new fluttering flags on Mount Kailash
Another colorful attraction and addition to the festivities is the tying of new prayer flags on the flagpole at Tarboche. Many come on the Tibet festival tours to tie these prayer flags on the new prayer flagpole and to help their prayers to reach the almighty through constant fluttering and drawing His attention to the prayer.
The 25 meters high pole is considered the tallest in Tibet. The devotees and the visitors on the festival tour tie the prayer flag before it goes up high on the sky, taking their prayers with it.
The whole festival is quite fascinating, especially to those traveling on a Tibet festival tour for the first time. Although it becomes crowded up there near the holy mountain, it is an experience that one should explore at least once in a lifetime!