Monlam ‘The Great Prayer Festival’ སྨོན་ལམ་

monlam the great prayer festival སྨོན་ལམ་

Monlam translated from སྨོན་ལམ་ – meaning ‘wish path’ is known more commonly as ‘The Great Prayer Festival’. It is a highly important religious event in Tibet.

What is the history of Monlam?

The event of Monlam or ‘The Great Prayer Festival’ in Tibet falls between the 4th–11th day of the 1st Tibetan month.

In 2018 it began on February 2nd.
In 2019 it will begin on February 8th.

It was established in 1409 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Geluk tradition.

As Monlam is the most significant religious festival in Tibet, thousands of monks (of the three main monasteries of Drepung, Sera and Ganden) gather in vast numbers for chanting prayers and performing religious rituals at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa which serves to act as the epicentre of this festival.

Jokhang Temple Lhasa Tibet
Jokhang Temple Lhasa Tibet


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

It is also for the survival and spreading of the Dharma in the minds of all sentient beings, and for world peace.

monlam dance cham
Monlam Dance

The communal prayers, offered with strong faith and devotion, help to overcome obstacles to peace and generate conducive conditions for everyone to live in harmony.

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