Ongkor Festival, a harvest time in Tibet

As an old festival celebrated in the farming areas of Tibet, the Ongkor Festival is celebrated at the end of the seventh Tibetan month just before peasants begin to reap their crops. The initial reason for celebrating the Festival was to offer sacrifices to gods in the hope of receiving a good harvest.

 

Related articles:

Five areas in Tibet: The southern farming area

A short history of Shoton Festival

Shoton Festival with two meanings

 

A rider performs in a competition during the Ongkor Festival in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2012. The Ongkor Festival, or Bumper Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually by farmers praying for harvest of crops. Photo: Xinhua

A rider shoots an arrow in a competition during the Ongkor Festival in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2012. The Ongkor Festival, or Bumper Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually by farmers praying for harvest of crops. Photo: Xinhua

"Onkor" means "looking around the fields" in Tibetan language. According to agronomic needs, specific dates for the Festival vary according to locations. Some areas hold the Ongkor Festival in mid-summer.

 

It is said that the Ongkor Festival has enjoyed a history of more than 1500 years. According to the relevant Tibetan documents, aqueducts were constructed in the Yalong area at the end of the 5th century AD, people began to use wooden ploughs to plow, and the agricultural production was comparatively developed. In order to ensure the plenteous harvest, the then-Tibetan King asked the hierarch of the Bon religion for agricultural guidance. Following the tenets of the Bon religion, the peasants were taught to walk around their farmlands, beseeching the Heaven for a good harvest. This is the origin of the Ongkor Festival.

 

But the Ongkor Festival was not a formal festival at that time, only an activity before reaping the crops. After the rise of the Tibetan Buddhism, the Festival changed to its present form, tinged with features of the newer religion.

A rider shoots an arrow in a competition during the Ongkor Festival in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2012. The Ongkor Festival, or Bumper Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually by farmers praying for harvest of crops. Photo: Xinhua

People perform during the Ongkor Festival in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2012. The Ongkor Festival, or Bumper Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually by farmers praying for harvest of crops. Photo: Xinhua

During the late years of the 8th century, Tibet came to the Silver Age of the Tibetan Buddhism when the representative sect was the Nyingmapa sect, and the Ongkor Festival therefore was characterized with the features of the Nyingmapa sect. In the 14th century, Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Gelugpa sect, came to Tibet. Through rectifying various sects, the Gelugpa became the dominant sect in Tibet. More features of the Gelugpa sect were added into the Ongkor Festival.

 

During the Ongkor Festival which lasts for three to five days, all the villagers, men and women, young and old, put on their best holiday clothes, hold colorful flags with good wishes, and carry a "harvest tower" built with barley stalks. They sing and dance, beat drums and gongs, and walk around the fields. Each family sends out a representative, mostly woman, to form a 100-member team. They are dressed in grand Tibetan robes, wear their gold and silver jewels, carry dou (a measure for grain) and scripture books and hold colorful arrows. Under the leadership of a revered man and accompanied by the sounds of ritual trumpets and drums, they move round the farmlands outside the village, shouting "Yangguxiu! Yangguxiu!" (meaning "Come back, the soul of the earth!") Activities including horse racing, shooting, singing, dancing, Tibetan opera, stone holding and wrestling are held at the Festival.

 

The contents of the Ongkor Festival are more colorful than ever before. Trade fair has been a new part of the festival, which promotes local economic exchange.

Riders attend the Ongkor Festival in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2012. The Ongkor Festival, or Bumper Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually by farmers praying for harvest of crops. Photo: Xinhua

A resident of Tibetan ethnic group ignites a gun during a performance of the Ongkor Festival in Gonggar County of Shannan Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2012. The Ongkor Festival, or Bumper Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually by farmers praying for harvest of crops. Photo: Xinhua

 


Touched Sympathetic Bored Angry Amused Sad Happy No comment

More Articles

About us

Rhythm Media Group is a multi-media company, operating a US-based Chinese daily newspaper, The China Press, and the paper’s website - uschinapress.com (which has mobile-app version), as well as a Beijing-based English website Sino-US.com. The group boasts 15 branch offices across the US, and a number of cultural centers focusing on culture-related business in the North America, Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Launched in September 2012, the Sino-US.com is designed to serve as a bridge between China and the US, and to keep its readership inside or outside China better informed by providing news and insights on China’s current affairs, culture, life, business, people and sports.

Our Partners

About us - Contact us - Advertise - Copyright - Terms of use - Privacy policy

Copyright © 2012 www.sino-us.com All Rights Reserved