Travel Photos: The Great Prayer Festival

Travel Photos: The Great Prayer Festival

During our recent travels in February 2024, we were most fortunate to attend the 'Monalm Chenmo'/Great Prayer Festival (Feb 2024) in Nepal. We also let some of the younger monks have a play with our not so travel friendly/1.5 kgs DSLR camera. Here are some photos from the festival, including those taken by the novice monks and us.

About the Great Prayer Festival

The Monlam Chenmo is the most important celebration of the Tibetan New Year (Losar) and begins on the 4th day of the 1st Tibetan month. It was established in Lhasa in 1409 by Lama Tsongkhapa, a renowned scholar and founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Since Nepal and India now have a significant Tibetan Buddhist community, this festival is observed here as well. Note that several similar prayer festivals are held during this time by various monasteries and their communities. Devotees usually attend the festivals held by their parish.

Highlights of the festival include a very large congregation of monks and laypeople, extensive butter sculptures on ritual cakes (torma) and a parade of the future Buddha Maitreya through the streets. We were lucky enough to not just participate in the parade, but also carry the Maitreya palanquin itself through the dusty and chaotic roads of Kathmandu.

Here are some photos from the festival.

Young Buddhist monks with Tibetan horn
Novice monk with victory banner
Novice monk holding Nepalese flag
Novice monks in line for parade
Lama walking through the streets during great prayer festival
Holding the Buddha Maitreya palanquin
Devotees holding Buddha Maitreya palanquin
Procession with Buddha Maitreya and devotees around Kathmandu
Tibet Shop Sydney holding Buddha Maitreya palanquin


Kunga with pram in parade


Close up of Buddha Maitreya statue
Buddha Maitreya palanquin bearers
Finding God
Drummer monks during Great Prayer Festival
Traffic management during Buddha Maitreya Parade
Novice monks with victory banner at end of parade


Grand ritual cakes (torma) at Great Prayer Festival
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