Sound of prayer wheels fills Gyirong streets as Tibetan Buddhists mark Saga Dawa
Buddhists in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region are celebrating the traditional Saga Dawa festival, which fell on May 15 this year and marks three pivotal events in the life of Buddha: his birth, enlightenment, and attaining Nirvana.
For Buddhists this is a time to carry out good deeds, because of a belief that their merit could be multiplied a thousand-fold during the celebration.
Refraining from eating meat, turning prayer wheels, giving offerings, making blessings and showing mercy are some of the ways Tibetan Buddhists observe the religious occasion.
The sound of prayer wheels fill the streets of Gyirong, a town in Shigatse City on the border between China and Nepal, as locals spin the device to spread blessings and wishes, while chanting religious texts.
The town is an important stop along the cross-border trade route between the two countries. Its small Nepalese businesses have long served truck drivers transporting goods from China to Nepal and the other way around, but are now catering for a growing number of tourists.
Gyirong town is called the "backyard garden of Mount Qomolangma" and visitors come to enjoy the lush vegetation, mist-covered mountains and pleasant weather. Learning about Buddhism is a major draw, and religious festivals like the Saga Dawa are a way for tourists to immerse themselves in the local Tibetan culture.
The prospect of a flourishing tourism sector is bright as authorities develop the town and its infrastructure to attract more holidaymakers.
"The government is now developing Gyirong town, with more tourists coming, we have more opportunities to make our lives better as well," one of the locals told CGTN.