In every Buddhist reference, Saga Dawa is observed as a festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death anniversary of Lord Buddha. Falling exactly on the full moon day fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar. It is observed for the entire month by strictly aligning oneself to the Lord Buddha’s spiritual teachings. Teachings revolving around the cultivation of good deeds.
One of the best traditional practice of cultivating merit during the Saga Dawa festival is avoiding oneself from eating meat. Despite the fact that the degree of meat consumption is pretty much high in Tibet due to Tibetan topography, study reveals that about 73% of meat related business would lost during Saga Dawa.
Almost 90% of Tibetan restaurants display special Saga Dawa menu, encouraging the people to have more veg menu in order to save lives of animals as much as possible.
According to the Lord Buddha’s teachings, it is said that all sentient beings are equal to the needs of the happiness and equal to the preciousness of one’s own lives. It is also said that all sentient beings are reborn into the wheel of six cycles of lives including, Heaven, Human, Animal etc until you are enlightened from the suffering of birth, ageing, sickness and death so therefore it is strongly advised not to harm or kill each other within the six cycles of lives and live peacefully along with each other.
In the teachings of the Lord Buddha, it is also added if you kill any lives within the six cycles of lives during your this life time, you will be destined to pay your Karma back during your next life time so Tibetans believe that eating lots of meat will cultivate a very bad Karma
The observation of Saga Dawa can be seen not only through the consumption of veg ( as far as the subject is concerned) there are also Tibetans making huge purchase on live animals like fish, goat, sheep etc. during Saga Dawa and freeing them from slaughtering. In order to cultivate the merit and confess your bad Karma that you have created from lives to lives, people not only try to save animal’s lives, but also do a lot of prostration around the most sacred temple of Jokang, monasteries, Potala Palace or the outer circumambulation of the entire old section of the Lhasa city. They also visit monasteries, paying homage to the sacred statues of Buddha or offering donation to the monasteries during Saga Dawa festival.
Why Tibetans do more religious ceremony during Saga Dawa is because we believe Saga Dawa is a very special occasion and during Saga Dawa festival, if you do more ritual ceremony or good deed, it is believed that you will get double or triple merit than the normal time so during Saga Dawa festival, you will witness more religious festivals including huge number of Tibetans, doing prostration around the temples or monasteries, having Thangka display or monks musk wearing dance in many of the monasteries.
Many tourists from all over the world are traveling to Tibet during this great festival period and enjoying more authentic Tibetan experiences.