Chunga Choepa translated from བཅོ་ལྔ་མཆོད་པ་ – known as ‘Butter Lantern Festival’ is an important religious event in Tibet.
What is the history of Chunga Choepa?
Chunga Choepa or The Butter Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.
In 2018 it began on March 2nd.
In 2019 it will begin on February 19th.
It is one of the four Buddhist festivals commemorating four events in the life of the Buddha, according to Tibetan traditions.
Chunga Choepa was created in order to commemorate the victory of the Buddha Shakyamuni against heretics in a religious debate over 2,500 years ago in India.
During the festival, thousands of butter lamps (lamps made of actual butter) are lit and butter sculptures of Buddhas including animals, flowers and birds are displayed. It is a beautiful sight to behold with some of the most intricate art work you will see any where in the world. It is almost hard to believe it is all made from butter. Monks that create these art pieces are exceptionally talented and take many hours to complete.
The Butter Lantern Festival is best experienced in the Capital of the TAR Lhasa, with an epicentre for the celebrations being on Barkhor Street and in the Square. This is a particularly ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Monastery and easy to locate.
For visitors, Barkhor Street is already a magical place showing the original outlook of Lhasa but it becomes more colourful during the Chunga Choepa.
It is especially so in the evening when the lantern show begins and all manner of spectaular art work illuminates with the crowds of people enjoying the festivities well into the night.
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