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Lhasa celebrates festival of women's protector

By Source:China Daily 2016-12-14

Lhasa's ancient Barkor Street was filled with the smoke from burning juniper branches and the sound of prayers, as thousands celebrated the annual Pal Lhamo festival on Tuesday.

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Tibetan Buddhists offer Khadaks and cash to the statue of the Pal Lhamo deity in Jokhang Temple during the Pal Lhamo Festival on Tuesday. [Photo by Palden Nyima/chinadaily.com.cn]

The one-day event is practiced on the 15th day of the 10th month according to the Tibetan calendar.

"Tibetan women consider Palden Lhamo, one of the protective deities of the Tibetan Buddhism, as their protector, and the females regard it as an important day," Yeshi Choedron, an English announcer at the Tibet People's Broadcasting Station, explained.

The religious festival has become a particular favorite of women in Lhasa, as many young girls can ask for money from any men on the occasion.

Kalsang Drolma, a waitress in Lhasa, said she profited from the rare religious event.

"I woke up at 4 am and arrived at the Jokhang Temple at 5 am. I am pleased to pay my visit to the Pal Lhamo deity today," she said.

The 26-year-old said she made about 500 yuan ($72) from her WeChat friends in the first half of the day.

According to Yeshi Choedron, Tibetan women would traditionally not ask for money from men on this day, and the event has evolved over time.

"Traditionally, while people make offerings to the deities with cash and offerings, they would donate tips for the lower class or the poor," the 34-year-old said.

Yeshi said she herself did not like to participate in asking money from men on this event, however, she was not opposed to other girls doing it.

Yeshi thought it could also be considered a women's day as Tibetans believe the Palden Lhamo deity would come down to earth and the women in Lhasa believe Palden Lhamo is their protector.

She said that in the past, the image of Palden Lhamo would be carried to the third floor outside the Jokhang Temple and then her image would be faced south where the statue of the Trizongzan was enshrined in a monastery on a small mountain in the Drub village.

It has undergone some changes today, as the image of the Palden Lhamo is now carried to the quarter yard of the temple, not the third floor.

"As far as I know, I heard from the monks saying on this day, there are so many people offering barley wine to the Pal Lhamo image, there is so much barley that it is leaking everywhere, it becomes slippery, and it is little bit dangerous for the pilgrimages who come to pay their homage. Secondly it is not good for the preservation of the old temple, so it is carried to the quarter yard today."

According to Tibetan history, the daughter of Palden Lhamo, the Bal Lhamo deity fell in love with Trizongzan, who is also a protective deity of Jokhang Temple.

When this was discovered by Palden Lhamo, she punished Trizongzan by making him stay on the south bank of Lhasa River, and the lovers promised to meet once a year across the river on that special day.

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