* Please click image for a larger view
At Labrang monastery, one of the largest monasteries in Amdo, throngs of pilgrims wait for the unveiling of an enormous thangka on the festival day of Monlam. They are watched by a formation of People’s Armed Police which stretches along the entire length of the Sangchu River in town. On the right-hand side of this panoramic image the thangka can be seen in orange, carried upon the shoulders of Labrang monks.
The Monlam ceremony was established by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very important holiday for local Tibetans, and pilgrims will come from across Tibet to see the unveiling of the thangka at Labrang. After a three-hour ceremony including prayers and offerings of khatas to the Buddha, the thangka is rolled up and put back inside the monastery. The number of pilgrims present this year seems to be higher than in previous years, as does the size of the police presence.