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Changed and unchanged of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries
By:Xinhua
update:January 02,2018
 
UNCHANGED TRADITION
 
Religious study and services are the main activities of monastic life.
 
Tibet Buddhist Theological Institute, the autonomous region's first comprehensive Buddhist academy, has branches in 14 major monasteries.
 
Aged between 17 and 30, the monks at the institute's branch at Drepung study sutra to acquire the highest academic degree -- "Geshe Lharampa" -- similar to a doctorate. Since 2005, more than 100 monks have received the degree in Tibet.
 
"Those monks who study sutras are the future of any monastery," said Ngawang Kunqing, head of the Drepung branch of the institute. "So it's important to look after them well."
 
Those with excellent conduct and academic performance have the opportunity to study at the institute, which recruited its first batch of 150 monks in 2011.
 
"To acquire the highest degree is not easy," said Ngawang Chupa, a sutra teacher from Ganden Monastery. It took him 32 years to obtain his "Geshe Lharampa". He now teaches sutra to more than 100 monks in 4 classes.
 
Dharma assemblies are still the most important activities in monasteries.
 
On the anniversary of the birth of the Buddha every year, Sera Monastery begins an assembly at 6 a.m., when over 500 monks chant sutras together. It's a grand sight to see.
 
On auspicious days of Tibetan calendar, monasteries, big and small, hold the same traditional ceremonies as they have for centuries.
 
Tsurphu Monastery holds 38 such ceremonies a year, while Sera and Drepung monasteries hold even more.
 
An official survey found 1,787 places of religious activity in Tibet, with over 46,000 Buddhist monks and nuns in-residence, offering on-the-spot services like weddings or funerals.
 
"Such services not only meet the religious demand of Tibetans, they are also the responsibility of monks," said Dorje Tsering from the religion bureau of Xigaze city.
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