Palden Lhamo Festival དཔལ་ལྷའི་རི་ཁྲོད་
Palden Lhamo festival is celebrated only in Lhasa. People from other parts of the Tibet would call it Lhasa’s Palden Lhamo festival. The festival falls on the 15th days of the 10th month of Tibetan Calander. This is the celebration to honor the female deity called Palden Lhamo. In Lhasa, it is also considered as the Women’s Day.
Who is Palden Lhamo
Palden Lhamo is the wrathful female protector deity of Tibetan Buddhism. She is the official deity of Lhasa and Jokhang temple. When Songtsen Gampo finish building the Jokhang temple. he appoints Palden Lhamo as the protector deity for the New Temple and his empire. Later the Palden Lhamo became a very important deity in Tibetan Buddhism and she became a protector for Successive Dalia Lamas and Panchen Lamas. Hence she is one of the most important deities of Tibet.
The history behind the Celebration of Palden Lhamo Festival
There are two stories we have been hearing since our childhood. The first story about the festival is that it is to commemorate the completion of the Jokhang temple. When the king was building the Jokhang temple, local demons obstructing the work for the temple. He then assigned the Palden Lhamo as the chief protector of the temple, Which lead to smooth construction work. The celebration of the Palden Lhamo festival is to thank the deity for the help in smooth construction of the temple and to mark the completion of the temple.
Another story tells as the Palden Lhamo was a very mischievous and disobedient young girl. As her mother became tired of tending her, she put a curse on her daughter to grow up into an ugly woman and would only meet her lover once in a year. The curse later came true and she grew into a frog-faced and would only meet her lover once a year. The day when they would meet is marked as Palden Lhasa Festival.
She later grew up into a frog-faced woman and only got to meet her lover (protector deity of Drip, the village on the northern side of Kyichu River) once a year, the day of their union was later marked as Pal-Lhamo festival.
The celebration of Palden Lhamo festival
In Lhasa, Tibetan women tend to celebrate the festival with more enthusiasm. They would dress in traditional clothes and would bring an offering to Palden Lhamo to the Jokhang temple. The celebration marked by going to have an audience of the Frog face Palden Lhamo. Her face is displayed only once in a year, otherwise, her face would be covered with cloth as other deities.
In Jokhang temple, Statue of Palden Lhamo and the Songtsen Gampo will be put into a display for pilgrims. People would go there in the early morning to be in a mile long queue to the Jokhang temple.
After the Audience at the temple, we would go to the other temples and monasteries as it is the only day in a year. Some of the most popular monasteries to go are Muru Monastery, Ramoche temple, Gyuto monastery, and Sera Monastery,
After visiting some monasteries, we will head back to have a special lunch for the day the Shamdey, The Tibetan Curry dishes. We will also give money to the Elderly, Ladies and children in the family for the occasion.
The Palden Lhamo festival is a simple and spiritual festival celebrate in the Lhasa region of Tibet.