Tibetans

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2016-Losar-Prayer-Guide-2

Tibetans

15 Days of Prayer for

during the Tibetan New Year Feb. 9th to 23rd, 2016

Why have we chosen to pray during

the Tibetan New Year?

The New Year is the biggest festival in the Tibetan world,

similar to Christmas in the West. There are a lot of

religious activities held during this period, so it is really a

good time for us to pray for them.

Why 15 days?

The Tibetan people normally celebrate the New Year for

15 days.

What should you do?

Each day, we will introduce you to different cultural things

about the Tibetan New Year and Tibetans. We hope this

will provide you with great stimulus for prayer.

• Firstly, read the article.

• Then, go through the prayer items.

• Finally, ask the Holy Spirit for special revelation about

how to pray.

Please note that these are random photos and are not of

those people specifically mentioned in this prayer guide.

Security concern: You are advised not to make hard copy print outs if you are living in China


Day 1 Tashideleh!

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Tashideleh!” “ Tashideleh!”

Today you can hear

“Tashideleh” in every region

and in every street in Tibetan

areas. “Tashideleh” means good

luck. Tibetan New Year is really

the most important festival for

Tibetan people. The word ‘Losar’ is

a Tibetan word for New Year. ‘LO’

means year and ‘SAR’ means new.

The celebration of Losar can be

traced back to the pre-Buddhist

period in Tibet. During the period

when Tibetans practised the Bon

religion, every

winter a spiritual

ceremony in which

people offered

large quantities

of incense to

appease the local

spirits, deities and

protectors was

held. This religious festival later

evolved into an annual Buddhist

festival which is believed to have

originated during the reign of

Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of

Tibet.

Long history comes with customs.

When Losar comes and the first

rooster crows, housewife Drolma

brings her buckets, Tibetan wine,

“grain hopper” and spices, and

rushes to be the first to fetch

water which is believed to bring

blessings to her.

Unfortunately, before she arrives

at the well, she already sees her

neighbor fetching water. It means

this year she could

not be the first.

Drolma, however,

still lights a fire

and offers tea and

water to worship

the Water God.

Then she takes the

“new water” and

goes home without

turning back. It is said that the

water will no longer bring them

any blessing if one turns back.

When Drolma returns home, she

fills the god’s cup with the “new

water” and pours the rest into a

water jar. She also needs some of

the water to prepare congee with

highland barley wine to show that

this is the beginning of the new

year.

In Tibet today, however, it is

not common to see women like

Drolma and her neighbors still

fetching water following the

traditional customs. Nowadays,

Tibetan houses have a tap water

supply. “Creative” housewives

sacrifice a “kada” (a white scarf

with the meaning of blessing) to

the tap, start smoke with mulberry

leaves, pray sincerely and then

turn on the water tap. The water

that comes out is also called “new

water” with blessings.

Pray that:

• The Tibetans will enjoy a

happy new year.

• Jesus will be the Lord of

the Tibetan New Year.

• Christian friends will

have opportunities to

celebrate with Tibetans,

and gain insight into the

culture and discover new

bridges to sharing the

good news.


Day 2 The Spiritual Dance for the New Year

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Today Dorjie was very excited.

He was going to the monastery

with his family. They were not

necessarily going to appease any

goddess, but rather, to watch the

spiritual dance.

In Tibet, Losar is not only a

cultural celebration. You can find

thousands of related activities or

ceremonies throughout the

process.

The

spiritual

dance is

among

them.

During

the Losar

celebration,

each monastery will arrange

their spiritual dance, a religious

ceremonial dance. It can be in the

form of solo, dual, or even group

dance. All dancers are monks,

strictly chosen and trained. When

they are dancing, they wear masks

and long gowns with colored

ribbons, accompanied by musical

instruments such as cymbals,

battlehorns, and reeded horns.

Today the spiritual dance was

followed by the blowing of a conch

horn. Dorjie and his family were

waiting quietly for the monks

who would be wearing masks

of protecting deities, monsters

Pray that:

• The Tibetans will

be set free from the

demons and those

spiritual rituals.

• The Tibetans will no

longer be cheated

by the lies from the

monks.

• The Tibetans will

know Jesus is the

only one worthy of

worship.

and demons to enter the dancing

avenue. Every action of the monks

had its religious meaning. Dorjie

concentrated to watch the dance.

He knew that the spiritual dance

was a religious activity that was

said to expel demons, take away

bad luck and bring them blessings.

Such an auspicious activity was

something not to be missed during

this big festival of the year.

During the dancing ceremony,

the audience paid close attention.

Dorjie’s mother kept mumbling

and Dorjie knew

that his mother

was chanting. A

moment later,

Dorjie saw

many neighbors

and relatives

bow down on

their knees, with their foreheads

touching the ground in worship.

The worshipers’ up and down

movements and the monks’

dancing seemed to form a perfect

picture of harmony.

After several rounds of solo and

dual dances, the crowded group

dance began, and Dorjie knew that

today’s spiritual dance was coming

to an end. Although he had already

stood there to watch for nearly

two hours, Dorjie was not tired.

On the contrary, he felt relieved,

joyful and blessed. He believed

that the religious dance was not

only a ceremony that could expel

demons, but also, it could clean

one’s soul. He believed that this

year would be better than the

previous.


Day 3 Let’s dance together

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

dance gently, like

butterflies flying in

a garden. Everyone

can join or withdraw

whenever they

want. Nowadays,

the dances are

well-organized, and

amplifiers with MP3

music are used.

Losang and his

friends joined the

circle quickly. Losang,

although not good

at dancing, enjoys

singing and dancing,

just like most other

Tibetans. They

danced for over two

hours, then finally

went home with joy

and excitement.

Today (the 3rd day of the New

Year) is really a happy day for

Losang, a young Tibetan man. Last

night he made a lot of preparations

for today’s worship, for example,

incense, holy water, wine, and

food. The most important thing,

however, was putting a new prayer

flag on a bamboo stick. All such

preparations can only be done

by males. This morning Losang

Pray that:

• The Tibetans will know

Jesus is the highest God.

• Jesus Christ will break

through all the chains

and bondages.

• The Tibetans will have

a good time with their

friends.

woke up very early, about 5:00 am.

He rode a horse and went to the

mountain with his neighbor. It is

normal practice that males should

represent the family to carry out

the worship rituals on the 3rd day

of the New Year.

The males burnt juniper leaves and

incense, put their bamboo sticks

on the mountain, and worshipped

the mountain god. Then they ate,

drank and danced. At about 4 pm

they left and went back home.

Losang cut a small bush, and put

it in the front of his home, thus

representing the protection of the

mountain god.

Though Losang was busy all the

day, he didn’t rest. He had to do

the circle dance with his friends.

The circle dance is a Tibetan folk

dance. The dancers dance hand in

hand, usually without music, but

accompany themselves by singing.

The males dance with big motions,

like eagles flying. The females


Day 4 Taboos in Tibetan New Year

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

There are countless taboos for

Tibetans’ living habits. Taboos are

particularly significant in the New

Year, a festival which emphasises

auspicious meanings. Tibetans, ranging

from the elderly to children, have

to speak and act carefully so as not to

irritate or annoy relatives and friends,

hence everyone can celebrate the

festival delightedly and peacefully.

Bumo has been a very obedient girl

since she was young. She strictly follows

her parents’ teaching and commands,

including the traditional living

taboos. During the New Year, she is

especially cautious.

The penultimate day of every year

is the day for all families to have a

thorough house clean-up. They sweep

every place, ranging from scripture

hall and kitchen to children’s bedrooms

and pens for livestock. Bumo

diligently helps her mother to do all

sorts of cleaning; meanwhile, she

collects all the garbage and dumps it

together with portraits of evil beings,

which her father has already

prepared, at the auspicious corner of

the village at night. According to her

father, the best location is the junction

of three streets.

After she disposes of the garbage, she

goes home and gets ready for a bath.

Tibetans are used to taking a bath before

the New Year, which symbolizes

washing away all the bad luck. Yet,

there are taboos for picking a right

date for bathing. Men bathe on the

New Year’s Eve whereas women have

to bathe on the day before New Year’s

Eve or before; otherwise it is unlucky.

On the first morning

of the New

Year, Bumo’s

mother gets

many different

kinds of food ready

for Bumo and other family members

to eat. The more they eat, the

better it is for them as this is the only

day of a year, which means that the

whole family will be satiated throughout

the whole year without worrying

about a lack of food.

In addition, Bumo definitely does not

do any cleaning such as sweeping

floors and washing clothes on this day.

There are several reasons for not doing

so. First, Tibetans think that this

will sweep or wash away all the good

luck. In addition, sweeping on the first

day of the New Year represents that

their house will be dirty every day and

it will always need a lot of cleaning.

On the first day of the New Year,

parents cannot reprove their children

because of the effect on their

fortune. So not matter how mischievous

Bumo’s siblings are, her parents

can only remind them gently but not

severely scold them. Moreover, the

elder brother who usually speaks foul

language also tries to control himself

so as to avoid bad luck. What’s more

interesting is that neighbours cannot

throw yak dung outside as it will mean

that they will suffer great loss in terms

of horses, yaks and sheep, as well as

harvests of crops. In other words, they

can never be rich.

Bumo has also heard from her father

that Tibetans never borrow from

others, especially money, in the New

Year or he will end up needing to

borrow a lot and having lots of debt

and misfortune. A Tibetan proverb

says: “Whoever is rich owes no debts”.

Therefore, Bumo returns all the borrowed

books to her classmates a few

days in advance, even though she has

not yet finished reading those books.

Only when Tibetans return all the

borrowed items can they enjoy the

New Year without cares.

Pray that:

• The Tibetans can enjoy the

New Year freely and peacefully.

• The power of the evil spirits

behind these taboos will be

broken over the Tibetans.

• The Tibetan believers are

brave enough to say ‘NO’ to

these taboos.


Day 5 Auspicious offerings

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

the top of the basket with butter,

symbolising the prosperity of livestock.

Finally, Lhamo stuck in some

ears of barley and highland barley

to make the five crops basket more

beautiful.

In the early morning of the New

Year, Lhamo’s family members

gathered together and sat according

to the order of seniority.

Lhamo held the Chemar and came

respectively to the front of her elders

one by one. Each family member

would say “Tashideleh!” to

New Year is the busiest time of

year. Tibetans prepare different

food to eat and clothes to

wear. They also prepare decorations

of various sorts, depending

on their wealth.

Lhamo planted some grain seed

last year. She used what was harvested

from that for decoration

this year, and as a way of asking for

blessing of a good harvest in the

coming year.

Lamb’s heads are

not easy to buy,

especially when

New Year is coming

as the demand is

high. In the Tibetan

language, the pronunciation

of “lamb’s head” is very

close to “Losar”. Therefore Tibetans

like to decorate using lambs’

heads during New Year. Fortunately,

Lhamo had quite a good relationship

with the butcher, and had

already asked him to reserve one

for her. As it is a festival, Lhamo

colored the lamb’s head with oil,

and stuck some sun and moonshaped

graphics on it. A lamb’s

head can be used as a decoration,

or to show celebration. There is

a custom in Lhamo’s family: They

must cook lamb meat to eat, symbolising

good fortune.

Nonetheless, for Lhamo the most

time-consuming

work is to prepare

the Chemar, which

is given a place of

honor in the home.

Chemar is a type

of sacrifice that

is used in all celebrations,

such

as moving house and weddings.

When Lhamo was preparing for

the Chemar, she filled one side of a

basket with barley grain and fried

barley grain, and filled the other

side with tsamba (Tibetan barley

flour meal). This grain is the symbol

of good harvest. She covered

Pray that:

• The Tibetans will know

Jesus is the source of all

kinds of blessings.

• The Tibetans will know

Jesus is their protection.

• The Tibetans will receive

Christ’s goodness and

peace.

Lhamo. They took some grain from

the basket and threw it to the sky.

This is a sacrifice to the goddesses.

They then wished everyone peace

and happiness throughout the

year. Then they took some grain to

eat. It symbolised celebrating the

good harvest in the previous year

and prayer for abundant harvest of

all food crops in the coming year.


Day 6 Happy New Year Family Time

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

shape of the sun and the moon,

symbolising his health and fortune

for the coming year. His wife got

the one with a little square cushion,

representative of the coming

days being easy for her. His first

daughter got a white lamb’s fleece,

symbolising her generosity and

gentleness. As for his younger

daughter, she got ceramics which

symbolises her laziness. It is a custom.

It is a game. Family members

praise and tease each other. On

New Year’s Eve night, the family

becomes lively.

Tibetans attach huge importance

to their family. This is

reflected even more during New

Year days.

To Losang’s family, Losar is a huge

annual family gathering. Everyone

comes back in time to spend their

new year together, even if they are

studying far away, or working out

of town.

The Festive Dinner is the highlight

of the New Year Festival. On New

Year’s Eve in the Tibetan calendar,

Losang’s family joins together

to eat “Ku-ta”. “Ku-ta” is made of

nine ingredients including, carrots,

ginseng fruit, pea, flour, white

cabbage. Eating Ku-ta symbolizes

getting rid of the old and welcoming

the new, and also expelling the

bad luck of the previous year, and

all demons. On other days, cooking

Ku-ta is his wife’s job but for

the New Year Ku-ta, Losang and

his wife prepare it together. He

does so because the way of doing

this New Year’s Ku-ta is different

from normal days. They make

some shapes such as moon and sun

using flour, and other noodles in

ordinary shapes, just a bit larger.

These noodles encircle an array of

symbols which will represent the

fortunes and conduct of the respective

persons joining the meal.

Ku-ta will be randomly distributed

in each bowl. This year, Losang’s

elder son got the noodle with the

Pray that:

As for the following days, Losang

and his family join different celebrations

in the village, and visit

their relatives. After all, Tibetan

New Year is a season in which

people celebrate and enjoy their

family time together.

• The Tibetans will enjoy their family life.

• God will use the Tibetans’ family time as a time to

share His love and mercy.

• Christians will bring His Good News to every family.


Day 7 The Year of the Fire Monkey

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

started to farm for food. After

eating the food, the monkeys’ tails

became shorter and they started

to speak. Later they became a

man. This is the origin of the ancient

Tibetan people.

The monkey enjoys a respectful

and high status in Tibetan history.

The monkey also symbolises cleverness,

energetic living, and excellence.

Therefore, the Tibetan parents

prefer their sons to be born in

the Year of the Monkey. But they

feel worried if their daughters are

born in that year.

Tibetans believe in animals symbolic

of Terrestrial Branches.

There are 12 animal symbols in the

Tibetan calendar: Mouse, Ox, Tiger,

Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse,

Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and

Pig. Although it is similar to the

Han Chinese calendar year, there

is a slight difference between

them. The Tibetan calendar has its

particular characteristics. Tibetan

animal symbols are combined with

yin-yang philosophy and 5-phases

of Chinese philosophy.

Tibetans believe in counteraction,

such as, the horse counteracts

with the mouse, the ox counteracts

with the sheep, etc. In the year of

the Sheep, for example, people

born in the year of the Ox would

have bad luck. Tibetans must

counteract the bad luck by chanting,

or wearing some decorations.

The most common and fashionable

decoration is the copper mirror

with 12-animal symbols on it. You

can simply tie one around your

waist to get rid of the bad luck.

This year is the Year of the Fire

Monkey. The monkey has a long

historical meaning to the Tibetan

People. Once upon a time, there

was a monkey who was a follower

of Guan Yin the Buddha. He lived

in a cave in Tibet, where he studied

and practiced the teaching of his

religion. One day, a witch went

into the cave to seduce the monkey.

The monkey turned her down

without hesitation and said, “I can’t

break my rules.” The witch felt

heartbroken and threatened the

monkey: “Becoming a devil is my

destiny. If you don’t sleep with me

I must become the wife of a monster

and give birth to many many

little devils. By that time, this highland

will turn into the land of the

Devil, and many many people will

suffer. Do you want this to happen

one day?” she said.

The monkey had mixed feelings

and did not know what to do. So

he sought advice from Guanyin the

Buddha. For the good of all people

Guanyin the Buddha agreed that

the monkey should get married to

the witch. After the monkey and

the witch got married, she gave

birth to six little monkeys, and

more generations followed. They

Pray that:

• The Tibetans will know

our Father God is the true

Creator of the Universe.

• The Tibetans will receive

the true blessings that

come through Christ.

• The Tibetans will know

they are all destined to be

children of God, no matter

which year they were born

in.


Day 8 “Mönlam” Festival

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Monlam‘ is a big festival in

Lhasa. It runs from the 8th to

15th day of the first month.

The word ‘Monlam’ is a Tibetan

word for ‘Prayer’, so Monlam is

also known as the Great Prayer

Festival. It is in memory of the

Buddha. According to the legend,

in the first month of the year,

Buddha conquered or converted

six holy men of false religions. The

event was established in 1409

by Tsong Khapa, the founder of

the Dalai Lama and the Panchen

Lama’s order.

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 communal

prayers, offered with strong faith

and devotion, help to overcome

obstacles to peace and generate

conditions conducive for everyone

to live in harmony.

Monks from the Three Great

Monasteries of Tibet (Monasteries

of Drepung, Sera and Ganden)

assemble in the Jokhang Temple to

pray to Buddha Sakyamuni’s image

as if it were the living Buddha.

As the grandest religious festival

in Tibet, Tibetan mask operas

are performed and thousands

of monks gather for chanting,

showing the giant Buddha Thangka

paintings before the Jokhang

Temple, attracting enthusiastic

crowds of locals and pilgrims.

Some people will even prostrate

step by step all the way to Lhasa.

The examination for Geshe degree

(the highest degree in Buddhist

theology), in the form of sutra

debates, is held. Pilgrims crowd

to listen to sermons and to make

religious donations.

The last day of the Great

Prayer Festival, the

Butter Lamp Festival

celebrates the victory of

Sakyamuni over non-

Buddhist opponents. The

festival was established

by the Lord of Neu Dzong

in 1409.

Giant butter and Tsampa

sculptures varying in

forms of auspicious

symbols and figures are

displayed in the Barkhor

market. People keep

singing and dancing

throughout the festive

night. Often, a puppet

show is held as well

and the event will last

for several days. The

Butter Lantern Festival

is believed to be the

happiest festival in Tibet.

Pray that:

• The Tibetans will know

that Jesus is the only worthy

object of their prayers.

• The true light will shine in

the darkness of the Tibetan

areas.

• God will change the festival

activities to those that

are channels for glorifying

and praising Him.


Day 9 Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Tibetan Buddhism is the form

of Buddhism prevailing in the

Tibet region of China, Bhutan, the

state of Sikkim in India, Mongolia,

and parts of Siberia and Southwest

China. It is sometimes also called

Lamaism, from the name of the

Tibetan monks, the lamas [superior

ones]. The religion is derived from

the Indian Mahayana form of

Buddhism, but much of its ritual

is based

on the

esoteric

mysticism

of Tantra

and on the

ancient

shamanism

and

animism of

Bon, an older Tibetan religion. It

is also called Tantrayana (Tantra

vehicle) or Vajrayana (vehicle of

the thunderbolt).

History

The history of Buddhism in Tibet

began in 641, when King Songtsen

Gampo unified Tibet through

military conquest and took two

Buddhist wives, Princess Bhrikuti

of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng

of China. One thousand years

later, in 1642, the Fifth Dalai

Lama became the temporal and

spiritual leader of the Tibetan

people. In those thousand years

Tibetan Buddhism developed its

unique characteristics and also

Pray that:

• The Lord will

release the Tibetans

from bondage to

Buddhism.

• The Tibetans will

realise they don’t

need to make any

merit to earn eternal

life.

• The Tibetans will use

their devoted hearts

to serve our Lord.

split into four major schools, called

Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug.

Beliefs and Practices

The most dedicated Tibetan

Buddhists seek nirvana, but for

the common people the religion

retains shamanistic elements

which help them in daily life.

The people may gain merit by

performing rituals such as food and

flower offerings, water offerings

(performed with a set of bowls),

religious pilgrimages, or chanting

prayers. They may also light butter

lamps at the local

temple or fund

monks to do so

on their behalf,

many rituals are

also performed

in honour of the

local deities and

sacred places.

Praying is very common for the

Tibetans. Actually, they use a

number of different methods to

pray. In the temples, you can see

a series of prayer wheels. In the

streets, you can see many Tibetans

clutching hand-held prayer wheels.

In the mountains, you can see

colourful prayer flags flying in the

wind. In the houses, you can see

electric prayer wheels move round

and round. These things ensure

the Tibetans can pray in every

moment.

The path to enlightenment is

tantric. Tantric practitioners

make use of rituals and objects.

Meditation is an important

function which may be aided by

the use of special hand gestures

(mudras) and chanted mantras

(such as the famous mantra

of Avalokiteshvara: “om mani

padme hum”, which you can find

everywhere in the Tibetan areas).


Day 10 Religion & Life

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

customs and practices are highly

related to the religion.

Throughout the celebration of

the New Year, Tibetans have to

worship and pray to the different

Buddhas many many times.

They will visit the temples. They

normally burn juniper leaves or

incense as offerings and put new

prayer flags in their homes, hoping

they can receive happiness and

blessings.

After breakfast Dawa goes to

a temple with her husband,

spinning their prayer wheels in

their hands. During this period

they sometimes meet with monks,

taking the opportunity to ask for

advice; sometimes they meet with

their friends, with whom they chat.

That is the way Dawa spends her

mornings, everyday, every month,

every year.

In another family, Garma has

insisted on being a vegetarian

for more than a year. Before

that Garma was seriously ill. He

recovered following instructions

from a lama. To thank

Buddha for blessings, Garma keeps

his promise to be a vegetarian for

two years. Today whenever people

ask Garma why he chose to be a

vegetarian, he enjoys telling of his

experience of being cured.

Life is about religion. Religion is

about life. Tibetans never question

the differences between the two.

Religious activity is the most vital

part of life for Tibetans. Even

though some Tibetans are poor,

they still spend a lot of money on

religious activities. They make

the Buddha or god place the most

splendid area of their house. They

save the money they earn daily in

order to donate to the temples,

living Buddhas and monks.

In Tibetan society, many festivals

and very important ceremonies

are related to Tibetan Buddhism.

New Year is the most important

festival for the Tibetans. A lot of

Pray that:

• Jesus Christ will break

through all the strongholds

and demonstrate His power

in the Tibetan areas.

• Jesus Christ will change the

living habits of all Tibetans.

They don’t need to use their

money, time, and efforts to

appease their gods.

• God will open the Tibetans

eyes, so they can see that

Jesus is the only way to

salvation.


Day 11 Eight Auspicious Symbols

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

From top to bottom the symbols are shown in

this order:

The Parasol, the traditional symbol of protection

and royalty. The umbrella protects from all

obstacles, illnesses and harmful forces.

The emblem of Buddha, victorious enlightenment

and the methods for overcoming worldly

defilements.

The Conch Shell. It is an emblem of power, authority,

and sovereignty whose blast is believed

to banish evil spirits and avert natural disasters.

The Golden Fish. It represents happiness, fertility

and abundance.

The Dharma Wheel, the ancient symbol of

creation became the symbol of spiritual and

universal law in Buddhism. The hub of the wheel

symbolizes moral discipline, the eight spokes,

the Noble Eightfold Path, and the rim, meditative

concentration.

The Knot of Eternity. It represents the meditative

mind. It is an endless knot that overlaps

without a beginning or an end – symbolizing the

Buddha’s endless wisdom and compassion.

The Lotus. The symbol of absolute purity and

compassion. It represents spiritual unfoldment,

the transmutation of passion into compassion.

Given that generations of Tibetan

people have been living in the

tough environment of the Qinghai-

Tibet Plateau, Tibetan’s daily lives are

not as easy as other people’s. They

have a strong desire for more luck and

fortune in their lives, which characterises

their daily needs. After a long

history of thousands of years, the

Tibetan people have created a lot of

lucky signs and mascots.

Festive days are good opportunities

to observe the “luck culture” in Tibet.

New Year is the most important festival

in Tibet. During the New Year, the

Tibetan people place various mascots

at home, celebrating the festival and

praying for blessings for the family.

Cherma and luck drawings are among

the popular choices for praying for

blessings during the New Year. Of all

of them, the “Eight Auspicious Symbols”

ranks the first.

The Eight Auspicious Symbols is a

Tibetan style drawing containing deep

meanings. Most of these drawings are

displayed as wall pictures while some

of them are sculptures. The signs have

strong correlation with the Buddha

and Buddhism. Their images can easily

be found in a lot of daily life products

and fashion, which are put on as

amulets.

The Treasure vase. The divine vase of inexhaustible

treasures possessing the quality of spontaneous

manifestation.

Pray that:

• Jesus Christ will satisfy

the Tibetans’ desire for

blessings.

• The Tibetans will receive

the true “luck” from God.


Day 12 Intense Pressure

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Although Wongmo became a

Christian more than a decade

ago, her family members still do

not accept her conversion to Jesus

Christ. They regard Wongmo as an

apostate and thus, in their everyday

life, they rarely talk about her

with their relatives, the Tibetan

people are strongly influenced by

Tibetan Buddhism. What is the

point of mentioning a person who

has left their faith?

Wongmo

has very few

friends in her

village. The

family gatherings

at the

Tibetan New

Year give her

unspeakable

pressure. The

festivities are

more than simply a family reunion.

They involve a lot of religious

customs. There seems to be even

more tension between Wongmo

and her family at New Year.

On the New Year’s Day, every family

member has to take the highland

barley from a “Drosu Chemar”,

a wooden boat-shaped New Year

decoration which is believed to be

able to bring good luck, and throw

the highland barley in the air. At

the same time, he or she should

recite the religious scriptures so as

to pray for blessings in the coming

year. Wongmo still remembers

how nervous she was when she

was waiting in the line to perform

the ceremony the first few years

after she had just converted to

Jesus Christ. She hoped to witness

for Jesus Christ but at the same

time she was so afraid of making

her family angry that she chose to

give in eventually. In recent years,

she has learnt to “strike a balance”.

When she throws the highland

barley in the air, she prays God’s

guidance and joy for her family.

Another headache is whether

Wongmo should eat the food her

family receives from the monasteries.

Luckily, the elders in her family

have not forced her to eat the food

in recent years. Thus, Wongmo can

avoid eating the food sacrificed to

idols.

Wongmo has not attended other

festive activities, such as going to

monasteries and watching Tibetan

folk operas. Though her family

members still complain about this,

to Wongmo, this is just a trivial

matter. She has been used to these

kinds of grumbles, which happen

from time to time.

What hurts Wongmo most was a

remark her elder sister once made.

Her sister said to her daughter one

day, ‘Aunt Wongmo is no longer a

Tibetan!’ Without the acceptance

from her family, care from friends

and recognition of her individual

identity, Wongmo feels heartbroken

but she still strongly believes

that her loving God will keep her

and help her witness for Jesus

Christ with her special identity as a

Tibetan Christian.

Pray that:

• The believers are brave enough

to say ‘NO’ to certain kinds of

religious activities. Also, ask for

fewer tests that they need to

face.

• God will teach the believers

how to be Tibetan Christians.

• Believers will understand Biblical

truth and be deeply rooted

in God’s Word. Pray that they

especially will understand that

salvation is by grace, not by

works or earning merit.

• Pray that they will see the need

to meet with other Christians.


Day 13 The Trouble Daily Getting Life of New Tibetan Tibetan Monks Monks

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

few years back, I was in the

A Tibetan town of “X” where

there were many Tibetan Buddhist

monasteries. I mostly was spending

time with local Tibetan friends. One

old lady who is a mother of one of

my Tibetan friends said, “I wouldn’t

send my male grandchild to be a

monk in the monastery.” I was a bit

shocked because I presumed that

old Tibetan ladies especially would

be very devoted to Buddhism and

easily would send their children to

the monastery. It seems that Tibetan

society is changing now.

The Chinese government bans

monastic education before the age

of 18. The government justifies this

policy by arguing that monasteries

only teach religion and the Tibetan

language and students need a

complete education with sciences,

the Chinese language and math.

Senior monks have said that after

attending regular schools for nine

years many young Tibetans don’t

want to become monks.

Daily life in a Tibetan Buddhist

monastery

There is a basic pattern to everyday

life for a Tibetan monk. However,

there are also different levels of

status among them. People went to

monasteries to get educated, to earn

merit for their families and to pursue

religious fulfilment.

Pray that:

• The influence of monks

and lamas on society will

continue to decrease.

• The monks and lamas

can explore and learn

more new knowledge

including that of the

Christian faith and

Jesus.

• Jesus’ power will be

revealed as being much

greater than that of the

various Buddhist deities

and masters that the

monks and lamas are

committed to.

Normally a Tibetan monk’s daily

life starts in the early morning

and ends late at night. The whole

day is occupied with communal or

individual religious services and

the management of the monastery.

Older monks, learned lamas, hold

greater responsibilities such as

maintaining discipline and leading

the group prayers. Younger monks

help by running the kitchen,

shopping and serving food and tea.

Religious study and services are the

main theme of the monastic life. The

newly ordained monks start with

basic Tibetan language, grammar,

literature, sutra chanting and

prayers. Only a few talented monks

can enter a scholarly religious life

and advance to a high religious

qualification. The life of a monk is

not all just quiet meditation and

study. New arrivals and junior monks

especially perform chores like doing

the laundry, sweeping floors and

fetching water.

Many others work at more secular

jobs doing the work of craftsmen,

builders, artists and cooks.

Normally monks do 5-10 years of

study although it depends on the

individual’s situation. After that

they do what they are assigned, such

as management of the monastery,

business etc...

Nuns live a life similar to that of

monks, in a more invisible manner.

Their religious practice mainly

focuses on meditation and prayer

rather than advanced philosophical

studies in less structured nunneries.

The above description is a general

picture of life in a Tibetan Buddhist

monastery. However, there are many

exceptions or distinct practices in

different areas and monasteries.

For instance, some monks can have

6 months’ holiday or leave whereas

some monasteries are very strict

about that.


Day 14 The New Generation

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Kelsang Lhamo was resting in

her bed; she wasn’t asleep yet

but she could tell by the sounds of

breathing that the others in the room

were already sleeping. The New

Year celebration was almost over.

In a few days’ time she would be

making her way back to the big city

where she was a third-year university

student. Kelsang Lhamo was already

used to life in the big city. It was

very different from life here in her

hometown, a small nomad town in the

middle of the grasslands. After having

studied in the big city for several

years she felt that somehow both of

these places had become part of who

she was.

It was a very cold night, Kelsang

Lhamo was chilled to the bone. The

fireplace of course

was a great source

of warmth but now it

felt like the coldness

was even more

powerful than the

little fireplace, no

matter how hard it

tried. Fortunately she

had a warm blanket. Kelsang Lhamo

thought about the weather in the big

city. It was much warmer in the city

but sometimes she really missed the

comforting warmth of the fireplace.

Kelsang Lhamo thought about the

past few weeks. First the trip home.

She had travelled by bus together

with two of her classmates who

were also from the same hometown.

Sometimes the trip only took about

ten hours but this time it had taken

sixteen and a half hours. It wasn’t

very pleasant either as she had been

carsick most of the time. But it was

good that they could travel together

and of course sixteen and a half hours

was still not much compared to some

of their classmates who had to travel

more than 24 hours to get to their

hometowns. On the way she and her

classmates had talked about one of

their friends who got accepted to a

special English program around New

Year’s time and so decided to stay

in the city for the Losar. They had all

felt a bit sorry for her although they

understood her decision as it was a

good program and becoming fluent

in English was very desirable. But to

miss the Losar at home was somehow

sad, without the joy of being together,

eating and visiting.

And now when it was almost time to

go back to the city, Kelsang Lhamo

thought that once again it had been a

happy time. She had probably eaten

too much but what else could she

do, with so many people to visit and

always so much food around. It was

good to spend time with the family

and home town friends. But while

lying on the grassland awake in the

cold winter night Kelsang Lhamo

knew that she was also happy to go

back to the city. Sure it would be

nice to take some tsampa and other

food stuff from home but there were

many joys of the city life too. And

most importantly it was her life now.

As a student in a big city she was

constantly introduced to new things,

new ideas, and even new clothes. She

smiled when she thought about some

of the clothes she was quite happy to

wear in the city - like short skirts - but

would never ever wear here in her

hometown where she preferred to

have both her legs and arms covered.

There were of course confusing

things, like in the city there were

people who believed very differently

and some of the things they spoke

about just sounded so right, yet

Pray that:

• The students can adjust between

the different lifestyles in

the city and their hometowns.

• The students will follow Jesus,

as they have more opportunities

to hear the good news.

• The students will be better informed,

so that they can share

the good news to their families

and friends.

confusing at the same time. Back

home religion had never been a topic

of confusion. Kelsang Lhamo didn’t

quite know what to do with the

confusion. But confused or not she

had to admit that she was happy to go

back.


Day 15 The Workers and Their Ministries

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Prayer for the Workers

God has called many people to colabour

with Him and see His kingdom

extended throughout the areas

in which Tibetan people live. Many

nations, ethnicities and denominations

are represented in this effort,

each bringing something unique

to the tapestry. Amongst Tibetans

themselves there is a huge variety in

the expressions of culture, religion

and values they hold. This is hardly

surprising when one considers

what a vast area they dwell in, from

Western China, to Northern India

and Nepal with multiple sub-groups

in each nation.

Pray then that organisations and individuals

would value the diversity

found in the multi-faceted body of

Christ and that as ambassadors of

Christ they would strive to maintain

unity and no division would

be found among them. Pray that

the desire to see God’s kingdom

extended in the power of the Spirit

would take precedence over sectarian

preferences.

Pray for boldness for every worker:

that each one would make the most

of every opportunity and never

succumb to the “fear of man”. On

the other hand pray that all workers

would have such an understanding

of the cultural context they

are serving in that no unnecessary

stumbling block would be placed

before a single Tibetan (Acts

15:12-19). May each one be as “one

approved” before God, rightly handling

the word of truth and strong in

character (2 Tim 2:14-26).

As these messengers may live in

exotic towns, travel on dangerous

roads, at times eat unidentifiable

foods, and sometimes lack easy

access to good care and medical

services, pray for their health and

their safety at all times (2 Cor 1:8-

11). Pray also for financial provision

to enable them to study effectively,

pay their bills, travel to remote

places and care for their children.

May they not have to worry about

daily provision, and let the focus of

their prayers be on their ministries

and the people with whom they

have contact.


Day 15 The Workers and Their Ministries

15 Days of Prayer for

Tibetans

during the Tibetan New Year

Prayer for Ministries and Outreaches

• Pray that God would stretch out His hand to heal and perform signs and wonders

as His people step out in faith and obedience (Acts 4:29-31). Pray that

every messenger would be filled with the Spirit of God and ready to minister

any spiritual gift from helps and administration to healing and miracles (Eph

5:18, 1 Cor 12:27-31).

• Pray for the message of the gospel to be well contextualised, that Tibetans

would truly perceive that it is “good news” and that Jesus is the true Lord of all

Tibetans. May the messengers be able to discern that they should not bring

formulations of the gospel from their home cultures, but seek to understand

and apply the message of the scriptures through the eyes of their hosts, proclaiming

it wisely and appropriately (Acts 17:16-34, Dan 1:17-20). May whole

households and communities receive Jesus as Lord and be discipled together

(Acts 18:8).

• Pray for written and oral translations of the Scriptures and various gospel

presentations to be completed in all the different dialects and languages that

Tibetans speak. Pray for insight, wisdom and protection for those working

on such media, and that the finished products will be received well and disseminated

through appropriate technology. Praise the Lord for the Scripture

portions, New Testaments, movies, books and stories that have already been

completed (Is 55:11).

• Pray for creative and effective means for the workers to live in these regions:

for opportunities to study with skilled teachers, for openings for professionals

and businesses that bless the Tibetan people, for favour in the eyes of national

and local leaders that create opportunities to demonstrate and share the good

news (Lk 2:52, Col 4:2-6).

• Pray for the Tibetan church to grow and to rise up in its true identity. May the

workers nurturing these ones be true mothers and fathers in the Lord to them

and see their spiritual sons and daughters surpass them to God’s glory and

praise (Eph 1:18-23, 1 Cor 4:15-16).

Security concern: You are advised not to make

hard copy print outs if you are living in China

Please note that these are random photos

and are not of those people specifically

mentioned in this prayer guide.

Photos

Shutterstock

Flickr:

Andy Hares

Ckmck

Christian Ortiz

B_cool

Coss and Johanna

Erik Törnerr

Daniela Hartman

Daphne Chui

Dennis Jarvis

Ding Zhou

Eliseeva Ekaterina

Eric

Fran Simó

Gill Penney

Greg Walters

Jan Reurink

Jonas Merian

Jonathan Cheng

Jun Jhen Lew

Kirsten

Leo Zahradnik

Matt Ming

Monika Andrae

Prasad Kholkute

Richard Ijzermans

Robert Aichinger

Santo Chino

Sonja Laukkanen

Steve Lau

Sukanto Depnath

Tim Zachernuk

Wo Shing

Wonderlane

Yang and Yun’s Album

Ziyi Xu

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