White Kata Scarves
Presenting Kata Scarves
is a common practice among the Tibetan
people to express their best wishes on
many occasions such as wedding
ceremonies, festivals, visiting elders,
and entertaining guests. The white Kata,
a long narrow scarf made of silk,
embodies friendship, purity, goodwill,
good fortune, harmony and love.
Proposing a Toast and Tea
Proposing a toast and having
tea is a common custom when guests visit a
Tibetan family. The host will propose a
toast, usually barley wine. As the guest, you
should sip three times and then drink up.
Also, to entertain guests with tea is a daily
etiquette in a Tibetan household. The guest
need not drink the tea until the host presents
it to you.
Adding the word "la"
after a person's name in Tibetan is a
way of showing respect. "La" can also be
said on it's own as a polite way of
acknowledging that you've heard someone.
After a person dies, sky
burials are a very common way of paying
final respects in Tibet. However, there
are many prohibitions surrounding this
ceremony and foreigners are legally not
allowed to attend. Visitors should
respect this custom and keep away from
was introduced to Tibet from mainland
China and India in the seventh century
and remains the primary religion in
Tibet. Prior to that, it was the Bön
religion which was the original, native
religion in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism
consists of four major sects, the Ge-lug-pa
Sect, the Nying-ma-pa Sect, the Sakya-pa
Sect, and the Ka-gyu-pa Sect. Every
monastery in Tibet subscribes to the
beliefs of one of these four sects.
The motivations for
pilgrimages among the Tibetan people are
many, but for the ordinary Tibetan it
amounts to a means of accumulating merit
or good luck. The lay practitioner might
go on a pilgrimage in hopes of winning a
better rebirth, to cure an illness, to
end a spate of bad luck or simply
because of a vow to take a pilgrimage if
a bodhisattva granted a wish.
In Tibet there are
countless sacred destinations, ranging
from lakes and mountains to monasteries
and caves that once served as meditation
retreats. Specific pilgrimages are often
prescribed for specific ills; certain
mountains for example expiate certain
sins. A circumambulation (known as a "Kora")
of Mt. Kailash offers the possibility of
liberation from the wheel of life, while
a Kora of Lake Manasarovar can result in
spontaneous Buddha hood.