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New Year event in Tibet draws 100,000 Buddhist followers

February 5, 2008

     LHASA, Feb. 3, 2008 (Xinhua) -- More than 100,000 Buddhist
followers have converged at a Tibetan monastery to celebrate a local
religious festival in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet
Autonomous Region.

     The Sera Bengqin Festival, which falls on the equivalent of Dec. 27
of the Tibetan calendar each year and is held at the Sera Monastery, has
attracted tens of thousands of Tibetans every year. Many travel from
neighboring Qinghai and Sichuan Provinces.

     Lines stretching several kilometers were seen outside the monastery
on Sunday morning. Believers were waiting with hada, a traditional white
scarf, and sometimes cash, which they would present to the monastery.

     They would kowtow to a portrait of the "horse-headed king" and wait
to be touched on the head by the Vajra Pestle, a sacred instrument in

     The annual one-day festival can require long periods of travel to
get to the mountainous region.

     "I set off yesterday because I wanted to avoid the rush," said an
old man waiting in line.

     It is believed that celebrating the festival can ward off disaster
and hardship in the coming year.

Editor: Lin Li
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