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The festival, “the Monlam” in Tibetan language, is the prayer ceremony in the lunar month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It is held every year from the second night of the first lunar month to the 17th, lasting 15 days. The main activities include Thangka Buddha-Painting Exposure, Treasure Show Festival, Debate, Mask Dance Festival, and Butter Lamp Festival.
Monlam Festival was began to be held in Labrang Monastery during the reign of the second Jamyang Living Buddha (Born in 1728 and died in 1792). The Monlam Festival is the grandest and most solemn religious festival in Labrang Monastery. The content of this festival is to pray that the Buddha Dharma will be prosperous, the harvest will be good and all persons will be well throughout the year. During the festival, the monks will meet six times and chant sutras six times in the Great Scripture Hall of Wensi College every day.
On the eighth day of the first lunar month is the day of "Free Livestock", that is, to sprinkle Jingshui (the water for blessing) on the horses, cattle, and sheep, tie colored ribbons to their ears, and then free them. All the free livestock is to be deified, no one can hunt them.
On the thirteenth day of the first lunar month is the day of “Thangka Buddha-Painting Exposure”, this activity usually will be started at 9:00 a.m.. The great master will lead the respective monks from each monastery to carry the huge colorful embroidered Buddha image to the fixed platform in the foothills near the monastery. After that, the monks praise the merits of the Buddha and chant the Bathing the Buddha Sutra loud, the crowd was very respectful and the scene was very grand, at 11:30 a.m., the activity will be ended. At about 01:00 p.m., the Mask Dance will be performed at the Lun Jing Yuan.
On the fourteenth day of the first lunar month is the day of Mask Dance.
On the fifteenth day of the first lunar month is the day of Butter Sculpture. Butter Sculpture made by monks are displayed around the Grand Scripture Hall and decorated with butter lamps to make them more vivid and eye-catching.
On the sixteenth day of the first lunar month is the day of Turning the Maitreya, the monks carry the statue of Maitreya Buddha and circle the temple with the accompaniment of a band to show that the future Buddha Maitreya would rule the world.