The Tibetan calendar is based on the cycles of
the moon, and various dates are considered especially auspicious
or inauspicious for certain practices. The information to collate
this page is mainly taken from the sources mentioned at the bottom
of this page.
Also some of the most important days of the Theravada
tradition are included: over the centuries, a difference of one
month has developed with the Tibetan tradition.
Please note that several aspects of the advised practice may
differ in the various traditions. For example in addition to others,
my teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche advises his students to:
Take "One-day Mahayana precepts"
on all Buddha-days (see below).
On tsog-days, he advises the "Guru puja"
being done in his centers and "Those who have received an initiation
into Highest Yoga Tantra have a commitment on the Tibetan 10th
and 25th of every month to perform a tsog offering. The 10th is
associated with Father Tantra and the 25th with Mother Tantra."
On Medicine Buddha day (8th), he advises the
practice of Tara and Mahakala
Especially in the Nyingma tradition, emphasis is put on the
"Guru Rinpoche day" on the 10th of every month. In this
way, all traditions celebrate their own special days in their
own special way.
The multiplication factors mentioned below for special days can
vary per tradition, if not mentioned otherwise, below follows
(Gelugpa) Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings of the Vinaya text "Treasure
of Quotations and Logic".
This page used to contain a complete Tibetan Calendar
of the actual year, but it has become too time-consuming for me
to do this every year. So for a calendar with actual practice
dates, please visit the Snowlion
The complicated Tibetan calendar is based on
lunar cycles. As the lunar cycle is less than 30 days, and the year
is divided into 12 months, tricks are applied to compensate for
the difference between the 12 moon cycles in approximately 354 days
and the actual 365-something days of the year. For this, sometimes
dates appear double or not at all. About every 30 months, like in
early 2000, even a complete month was doubled for compensation.
Special days which fall on double days are usually
celebrated on the second day, but may be celebrated on the first
day if it is more convenient. Special days which fall on missing
days are usually celebrated on the preceding day.
There are four major Special
or "Festivals" (düchen) in a year which relate to the
life of Buddha Shakyamuni. During these days, it is said that the
effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied 100 million
times, so practice is strongly advised.
Chotrul Düchen: During the first two weeks
of the new year, it is celebrated that the Buddha displayed a miracle
each day to increase the merit and devotion of future disciples.
During these days, the Gelugpa Mönlam Chenmo (great prayer festival)
is celebrated and extra practice is highly advised. The 15th of
the 1st month is the "Day of Miracles".
Saga Dawa Düchen: the 15th of the 4th
month, Buddha Shakyamuni's Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana
are celebrated. He was born in Lumbini (current-day Nepal) became
enlightened in Bodhgaya (India) and entered parinirvana ("passed
away") in Kushinagar (India).
Chökhor Düchen: the 4th of the 6th month,
the "First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma" (first
teaching) is celebrated. For the first seven weeks after his Enlightenment,
Buddha did not teach. Encouraged by Indra and Brahma, he then gave
his first teachings at Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths.
Lha Bab Düchen: the 22nd of the 9th month,
'Buddha Shakyamuni's Descent from the Heaven of 33' is celebrated.
Buddha's mother had been reborn in Indra's heaven. To repay her
kindness and to benefit the gods, Buddha spent three months teaching
in the Heaven of 33. This is not as often stated, in Tushita
heaven; Tushita is the realm where the Buddha lived before he
descended to Earth. Possibly somewhat confusing can be that one
week before, on the 15th of the 9th month, it is celebrated that
he accepted to return from the Heaven of 33.
In the Theravada tradition the following
main full-moon days are observed (information from Urban
Magha Puja (‘Sangha Day’)
The Buddha gave the teaching on the basis of the discipline
(Ovada Patimokkha) to the spontaneous gathering of 1250
Vesakha Puja (Wesak) (‘Buddha Day’)
The birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.
Asalha Puja (‘Dhamma Day’)
The Buddha’s first discourse, given to the five
samanas in the Deer Park at Sarnath, near Varanasi. The
traditional Rainy-Season Retreat (Vassa) begins on the
This marks the end of the three-month Vassa-retreat. In
the following month, lay people may offer the Kathina-robe
as part of a general alms-giving ceremony.
For an extensive list and explanation of Buddhist
festivals, see the Buddhanet
In the Kalachakra teachings, it is mentioned
that the Buddha taught this practice on a full moon day, therefore
all full moon days are considered special for practice in this tantra.
The 1st of the 3rd Tibetan month is Kalachakra New Year.
On the 15th day of the same month, the Buddha is said to have taught
the Kalachakra tantra, so this is considered the major day to practice
Kalachakra, or for example confer the Kalachakra initiation..
During a (partial) solar eclipse the effects
of positive and negative actions are multiplied by 10,000 according
to the Khandro
site, 100 million
times according to Lama Zopa Rinpoche. During (partial) lunar eclipse,
the factor is 7 million according to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, practices
like taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts are thus strongly advised.
Every months, certain dates on the lunar calendar
have special significance. On the Buddha-days, positive and
negative actions are multiplied by 100:
- Tibetan 8th (about first quarter): Medicine Buddha (Lama Zopa
Rinpoche also advises practice of Tara or Mahakala and taking Eight
- Tibetan 15th, full moon: Amitabha Buddha, meditation, recitation
of Sutras and taking Eight Mahayana Precepts, Kalachakra day
- Tibetan 30th, new moon: Shakyamuni Buddha meditation, recitation
of Sutras and taking Eight Mahayana Precepts
Medicine Buddha day: the 8th of every
month (Lama Zopa Rinpoche also advises Tara or Mahakala puja).
Guru Rinpoche day: the 10th of every month,
a special occasion in Guru Padmasambhava's life is celebrated. Tsog
is performed on this day by everyone who has received a Highest
Yoga Tantra initiation, it is specifically related to the "Father
Dakini's day: the 25th of every month
is related to the "Mother tantras" and tsog is performed
by everyone who has received a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation.
Dharmapala's day (Dharma Protectors):
the 29th of every month is a special day for Protector practice.
Sojong: on 14 or 15th and 29th or 30th,
confession practice for monks and nuns.
Eight Mahayana Precepts: for one day,
one can take the precepts to refrain from killing, stealing, any
sexual conduct, lying, intoxication, not to take a high or luxurious
seat, not to sing, dance or wear ornaments, and not to eat after
midday. (The first time, one should receive the precepts from a
qualified teacher, thereafter one can take them by oneself.)
Saka Dawa: the 4th month; 100,000 multiplying
of positive actions, so practice is emphasized and eating meat or
other 'black food' (like any meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic etc.)
The 11th month is especially associated
with the practices of Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini, which belong
to the Mother Tantras. The 25th of this month is an annual special
days for these practices.
OTHER ANNUALLY OCCURRING DAYS
||Tibetan New Year - Losar; see
here for a short description
||Anniversary of Milarepa.
||Anniversary of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, great master of
the 19th century.
||Kalachakra New Year
||Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Kalachakra tantra
||Anniversary of the great 5th Dalai Lama.
||Shakyamuni's birthday, enlightenment and parinirvana.
||Anniversary of Virapa, founder of the Sakya school.
||Local deity day - also Shakyamuni's birthday according
to the Theravadin school.
||Anniversary of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava).
||Discovery of the 4 medical tantras, special Medicine
||Anniversary of Jigme Lingpa, one of the great Nyingma
||Anniversary of Karma Paksi, second Karmapa.
||Anniversary of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa school.
||Anniversary of Dusum Khyenpa, first Karmapa.
||Nine Bad Omens-day 'Ngenpa
Gu Dzom'; advised to not start actions on this day (like
retreat, journey or new job).
[Alex Berzin:] this
starts 12 hrs after dawn on the 6th and lasts 24 hours
until approx. 5pm on Tibetan 7th
||Ten Auspicous Omens, 'Zangpo
Chu Dzom', occuring together, the day after the Nine
[Alex Berzin:] after Nine Bad Omens;
it starts approx. 5pm on the 7th until approx. 5pm on
||Anniversary of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, eminent master
of the 10th century.
||Offering day to Dharma protectors (Gutor).
||House cleaning day.
Generally, Monday is a good day to hang prayer
flags and Friday is very good. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche,
by hanging prayer flags (including long prayer flags and banners)
on the wrong astrological dates, "you will continuously receive
The following are inauspicious dates
according to the Tibetan
calendar: 10th and 22nd of the First, Fifth and Ninth months; 7th
and 19th of the Second, Sixth and Tenth months; 4th and 16th of
the Third, Seventh and Eleventh months; 1st and 13th of the Fourth,
Eighth and Twelfth months. See also "Prayer
Flags and Auspicious Days
" by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
This can be very confusing to non-Tibetans. When a baby is born,
one calls it one year old. This is probably connected to the fact
that the baby started its rebirth already 9 months earlier at
conception. Next, birthdays for ordinary people are normally celebrated
once a year, as part of Losar (Tibetan New Year). This means in
practice that a baby born on the last day of the Tibetan year
is called one year old, and can be called a two-year-old on the
next day! So if you need to know accurately how old a Tibetan
is, try to find out when he or she was born according to the Western
The birthdays of great Tibetan saints are usually celebrated on
the same date of the Tibetan calendar. Probably to avoid confusion
(but also adding to it), the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama is celebrated on a fixed date of the Western calendar: July
- great free astronomy
downloads; see actual planetary positions, moon phases, star map
etc. on your own PC.