December 18, 2017
Despite intense security with massed ranks of armed paramilitary forces, Tibetans gathered in large numbers last week across Tibet to mark an important Buddhist festival, Ganden Ngachoe, which marks the death anniversary of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist Master Tsongkhapa, the 14th-century founder of Tibet’s largest Buddhist school, the Gelug. The Dalai Lamas belong to the Gelug school. This festival has been observed in Lhasa over the past few years and can be described as a ‘Festival of Light’ as lighting of butter-lamps is an integral part of its observance.
The gatherings for the festival, including at monasteries in eastern Tibet that have been subject to heavy repression, are consistent with a pattern of large numbers of Tibetans marking prayer festivals at religious sites over the last few years despite an intimidating security presence and increasingly pervasive ‘grass roots’ restrictions and surveillance. This trend, demonstrating a spirit of strong resilience and determination to express Tibetan religious identity, is documented in these images of Tibetans gathering on the evening of the Ganden Ngachoe, which fell this year on December 12.