Saka Dawa Nyung
Ne Prohibited at Drepung Monastery
Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
According to reliable information received by the Tibetan Center for
Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), the Chinese government stopped and
prohibited the usual practice of observing Nyung Ne (fasting) during the
important Buddhist month of Saka Dawa. Saka Dawa is one of the most
significant Buddhist months of ritual. The full moon day of Saka Dawa
commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and parinirvana (death).
The celebrations typically last the whole fourth Tibetan month (usually
May or June).
Drepung Monastery observes the Nyung Ne practice during Saka Dawa for 15
days from the first to the 15th day of the fourth Tibetan month. During
this time, monks, nuns and lay people participate in the fasting.
However, since the uprising in 2008, the Chinese government has put a
stop to this practice. This year Drepung Monastery repeatedly appealed
to the Chinese government to allow them permission to continue the
practice, which was eventually accepted.
Therefore, as of May 30, people began flocking to the monastery, and the
monastery also became busy preparing for the festival and the prayer
sessions. In the meantime, however, members of the Chinese work team and
the Drepung Monastery’s police arrived at the Ham-dong team (Kham-tsen),
and they were ordered to immediately stop all preparations for the Nyung
Ne. All the people were notified to return to their homes, the majority
of whom were elderly people who had made an arduous journey for the
Fearing possible protests, the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and the
Drepung Monastery police were stationed around the monastery to
intimidate the locals, the monks and nuns who were there.
Under the leadership of the vice chairmen of the Tibet Autonomous Region
(TAR) government, the TAR National People’s Congress (NPC) and the TAR
Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC),
approximately 60 officials have been stationed in the monastery to
conduct “legal education.” In addition, a PAP contingent is also posted
inside the monastery to monitor the monks.
TCHRD is appalled at the level of intrusion into the religious life of
the Tibetan people and the blatant disregard of their right to freedom
of religion and expression. TCHRD thus calls on the Chinese government
to immediately reverse this outrageous interference.
* The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is the
first Tibetan non-governmental human rights organization formed in exile
in 1996. It is based in Dharamsala in northern India. More information
about the organization and its work is available on its web site at <www.tchrd.org>.