Rebgong’s Rongwo Monastery Hosts Nine-Day ‘Winter Teaching’

The event follows other religious gatherings held without interference by authorities in recent years.

Tibetan monks engage in religious debate at Rongwo monastery, Sept. 2017.

Thousands of Tibetan monks coming from monasteries across northwestern China’s Qinghai province have gathered this week in Rebgong county to take part in a traditional period of teachings and debates, according to a local source.

The Jang Gunchoe or Winter Teaching—the 24th to be held in the Domey, or Amdo, region—began on Sept. 22 and will run for nine days at Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county’s Rongwo monastery, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Monks from Ragya, Chakyung, Tsang, Treldzong, Kangtsa, and many other monasteries are all taking part,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Religious debates and other activities will be held each day for different groups and classes,” RFA’s source said.

Kalden Gyatso, Rongwo’s  senior monk, has called on participants to work hard to improve the quality of instruction at the gathering, the source said. “He has also emphasized that the monks should maintain their moral discipline, protect their vows, and thoroughly study the major Buddhist texts.”

“Many learned lamas have been invited to give talks, and they are advising their followers to spread the Buddhist teachings and the younger generation to learn the Tibetan language,” the source said, adding that Chinese authorities in the area have raised no objection to the gathering being held.

The assembly at Rongwo follows similar Winter Teaching gatherings recently held in other Tibetan-populated regions of China.

Public assemblies at monasteries in Tibetan regions of China have greatly increased in size in recent years, observers and participants say, as tens of thousands of Tibetans gather to assert their national and cultural identity in the face of Chinese domination.

Chinese security forces, fearful of sudden protests by Tibetan opposed to Beijing’s rule, often monitor and sometimes close down events involving large crowds, sources say.

Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.