Shaman Festival: Carnival of God and Tibetan People
If you’re naturally drawn into mysterious things in the world, such as sorcery or the High Priestess in ancient Greece, you should meet a Shaman at June Festival in Tongren if you happen to travel in Amdo Tibetan region during the summer time. Being called Lhawa in Tibetan language, Shaman is normally a man with protector God in his body, while he completely doesn’t remember whatever he did during the time. Each Shaman belongs to a village, and was chosen by the highest Lama (living Buddha) but can be passed on from generation to generation. After the blessing and guidance of the highest Lama and several years of practice, a shaman will finally demonstrate his power at June Festival.
June Festival is a weeklong celebration starting on the 15th day of the Lunar June, just before harvest. Over 20 villages in Tongren or Regong, “the Golden Valley where dreams come true”, dedicate their sacrifice and dances to their protector God in turn, with splendid costumes and masks, to please both God and people, and pray for a good year. Sheep or yak made of butter and Tsampa, wine and meat, fruit and beer, after sacrificed to mountain God and Protector Deities, will be shared with visitors who happen to enter the home and village.
“I was there last year, and what fascinated me most was the power of Shamans, their devotion and mystery,” says a Korean who visited June Festival in 2017. Shamans appear in every village and gather together in the end, after incantation and séance, to demonstrate their amazing crafts: healing and miracles, putting needles into people’s mouth or back, or even cutting forehead and shedding blood…Strangely, they won’t get hurt and recover immediately afterwards, leaving mystery to the viewers.
Shachong Monastery, which is the founder of Gelugpa traditional Tsongka pa’s teacher’s monastery.
Yellow River, which is one of the longest rivers in Asia. The heart of Tibetan art Tibetan art Thangka painting school.
Labrang Monastery, which one of the sixth largest Gelugpa monastery in Tibet. Ganja nomadic area and grassland.
Liujiaxia hydropower station, which is the third dam of the Yellow River
Kumbum Monastery, which is the birthplace of Tsongka Pa
Kokonor Lake (Ch: Qinghai Lake)
On arrival in Lanzhou or Xiahe, you’ll be met at airport and afterwards driven to your hotel in Labrang. Spending the rest of the day around Labrang Monastery, you can do a Kola with local Tibetans along the longest Prayer Wheel Corridor in the world, or just relax and enjoy some local food.
In the morning you’ll be driven to Repgong, to see the Shaman festival in Sok-kyi village. The performance and dances are among the best in this region, which last for three days. The dance style here is called “God Dance”, which is similar to Samba in Brazil, and participated by both male and female dancers.
You can choose to stay at Sok-kyi village to continue watching performance, or move to another village nearby to savor different views of Shaman festival. Today you’ll also have chance to join a local family to enjoy their food specially prepared for the festival.
Different dances are showed in this village, featuring military dance style, which was originated from ancient Tibetan army dance. Here you can also watch people having needles on their mouth and back, to demonstrate the power of Shaman.
Dragon dance is performed in this village, to worship God of water. Another performance called “Kaishan” is a must-see if you don’t mind bloody views: a shaman will cut himself on the forehead but recover immediately, to show his incredible self-control and power of curing.
This village combines beautiful “God Dance” and three performances by Shamans.
Today is the conclusion of the June Festival, when all shamans gather together in a village. Ask them to do a fortune-telling, or give you a clue about curing any disease you may have, to see if Shamans are really magic and powerful!
Return home from Xining airport.