The Saga Dawa festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 4th Tibetan month and is one of the most important religious festivals celebrated in Tibet. This auspicious day coincides with three important events in Buddha’s life namely his birth, nirvana and parinirvana (death). Since the Saga Dawa festival falls on the holiest month of the Tibetan calendar, it is believed that good deeds and prayers are multiplied thousand fold during this event. So we can see everyone immersed in prayers and trying to appease the gods.
During the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, many people refrain from killing animals and give out alms to everyone who comes asking for it. There may not be overt celebrations everywhere, but even then you can easily discern the festive spirit in the air during the Saga Dawa festival. If you are in Tibet around that time, don’t forget to be a part of the huge crowd that visits the Dzongyab Lukhang Park at the foot of Potala for a late afternoon picnic. In fact, this has become some sort of a yearly ritual for the people in Tibet.
The Tarboche flagpole replacing exercise is also an interesting event that takes place during the Saga Dawa festival. As people from all parts of Tibet gather here for this annual event, they bring small prayer flags to attach to the big flag that comes up with the combined help of the onlookers that come to witness the event. It is really fascinating to watch this event that is presided over by a Lama from the nearby monastery.
The Saga Dawa festival is truly a celebration that encompasses everyone into its fold casting aside all barriers of nationality, religion or color. In fact, being a part of this holy event is such a moving experience that you come back with a deep sense of inner satisfaction that stays with you for a long time.