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Tibet Religion & Culture

Religion of Tibet

No other religion apart from Buddhism has been able to take root in Tibet. Only a small population of about 2,000 throughout Tibet has faith in Islam, while there is no trace of Christianity at all. The Bon, the aborigine religion of Tibet, a sect of Shamanism which chiefly worshipped idols and the Nature and practiced driving off of evil spirits, had at one time reviled in Tibet but lost round with the penetration of Buddhism.

Thus, Buddhism can as well be said to be the sole religion of Tibet, and the faith has taken so deep in root that it means almost everything to the Tibetans. Well-to-do families even built in their compound their private chapels of prayer-rooms. To begin with, the first Buddhist scripture printed in Sanskrit was said to have been descended from Heaven in the 5th century during the reign of 28th Tsanpo Tho-Tho-Ri Nyantsan. It was translated into Tibet, and later in the 8th century after the visit the Indian Master Padmasambhava, the spread of Buddhism got accelerated and religious sect started taking shape.

 In the 11th century the visit of the Bengali Master, Atisha, to Tibet greatly encouraged the study of Buddhism into Tibet and sowed the seed for Gelugpa, the greatest sect that was to come. Finally, in the 15th century, Tsongkapa, the great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism, came to Tibet from Qinghai and founded the Gelugopa sect, the Order of Excellence, and hereafter Buddhism went all-out spreading like a wild fire into Tibet and the absolute ruler for Buddhism to rise to its paramount as the religion of the entire Tibetan nationality.

Culture of Tibet

Presenting Khada
The white khada, made of grege silk, embodies purity and good fortune. Presenting hada is a common practice among the Tibetan people to express their best wishes on many occasions, such as wedding ceremonies, festivals, visiting the elders and the betters, and entertaining guests. If you are receiving a khada, do remember to accept with both your hands! Raise the khada above your shoulder and bow if you are presenting a khada to a statue or a high lama.

Proposing a Toast and Tea
Proposing a Toast and Tea when you come to a Tibetan family, the host will propose a toast, usually barley wine. You should sip three times and then drink up. To entertain guests with tea is a daily etiquette. The guest has not to drink until the host presents the tea to you.

Greetings
Don't forget to add "la" after saying hello to the Tibetan people to show respect. Make way to others. Try not to make any sounds while eating and drinking.

Keeping away from Burials
Sky burial is a common form in Tibet. There are many prohibitions. Strangers are not allowed to attend the ceremony. Visitors should respect this custom and keep away from such occasions.

Tibetan Buddhism
Also known as the Lamaism, the Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from the mainland and India in the seventh century. The Tibetan Buddhism consists of four major sects, the Ge-lug-pa (Yellow) Sect, the Nying-ma-pa (Red) Sec, the Saturday-kya-pa (Variegated) Sect, and the Ka-gyu-pa (White) Sect.

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