You are here -ยป   Home » Our Trips » Tibetan Custom & Culture

Tibetan Custom & Culture

Tibetan culture developed under the influence of a number of factors. Contact with neighboring countries and cultures- including Nepal, India and China - have influenced the development of Tibetan culture, but the Himalayan region's remoteness and inaccessibility have preserved distinctive local influences. Buddhism has exerted a particularly strong influence on Tibetan culture since its introduction in the 7th Century. Art, literature, and music all contain elements of Buddhist religion, and Buddhism itself has adopted a unique form in Tibet, influenced by the Bön tradition and other local beliefs. Tibet's specific geographic and climactic conditions- its altitude, short growing season, and cold weather- have encouraged reliance on pastoralism, as well as the development of a different cuisine from surrounding regions.

In Tibet there are many interesting customs and cultures which have been followed by the Tibetan people from the time of their civilization. Below you will find a variety of culture and customs performed by Tibetan people.

Presenting Hada
Present hada is a common practice among the Tibetan people to express their best wishes on many occasions, such as wedding ceremonies, festivals, visiting the elders and the betters, and entertaining guests. The white hada, made of grege silk, embodies purity and good fortune.

Proposing a Toast and Tea
Proposing a Toast and Tea When you come to a Tibetan family, the host will propose a toast, usually barley wine. You should sip three times and then drink up. To entertain guests with tea is a daily etiquette. The guest has not to drink until the host presents the tea to you.

Meeting and Greeting
In Tibet although this custom is vanishing, it is still regularly used.  You will see Tibetans removing a hat and bowing when encountering a friend or a colleague. However, if the person he meets is an official, a senior, or a highly respected person, a Tibetan person lowers his hat as much as possible when he bows. The other person should show exactly the same courtesy in return.

Being a polite Host or Guest
Tibetan people always allow the guest be first while talking or walking. People must sit cross-legged as it is very uncouth to place your legs so that the soles of your shoes or feet point towards other people.

In Tibet you will find one of the family's children pouring a bowl of yak butter tea for the guest. The guest must wait quietly until the host carries and presents the bowl of tea with both hands and the guest takes the tea from the host in the same manner. Then, he can enjoy the tea and conversation. As a polite guest, one does not empty his bowl as a never empty bowl signifies lasting profusion. The host will add more tea to your bowl to ensure that it is never empty.

Presenting Khatag
Presenting Khatag, is very popular culture in Tibet. People offer Khatag when they visit parents, worship the Buddha, see somebody off, welcome someone home, and so on. While offering the Khatag the presenter makes a little bow and the receiver accepts it with both hands held in front of them and immediately puts it on around his neck and wears it. However, when presenting Khatag to seniors, the two arms should be raised up above the head. When presenting a Khatag to people of the same age or younger, the presenter can tie the Khatag directly to their necks. It is remarkable that some Tibetans even take a Khatag with them when they go out in case that they meet friends or relatives; and some Tibetans even seal Khatag in letters so that they can send their very best wishes. This custom is most popular in Tibet where all of the people follow it interestingly.

Tibetans are extraordinarily courteous and have rules governing their relationships. In Tibet polite language is widely used all over the country. Tibetans use it when they are addressing seniors, people with higher social status or people of the same age and same status. If they call someone, they will add 'la' after the name to show their respect. Some Tibetans still suppose that photos can steal their soul and Tibetan people dislike taking pictures of people without their permission.

Buddhist Etiquette
When Tibetans worship the Living Buddha, stupas and pagodas, devoutly, they raise their hands together high above their heads, take one step forward, lower their hands to the height of their forehead, take another step forward, lower their hands before their chest and take a third step forward. Then they kneel down and stretch themselves out upon the ground. After arising, they repeat this process. While they are performing prostrations, they chant sacred words, usually: Om Mani Padme Hum. Many pilgrims spend several years traveling from other provinces to Tibet performing prostrations each and every step of the way. Even though some people have died while on the road, it is never considered a pity as having traveled toward Tibet in this manner is a lifelong respect.

Book your Tibet trip to local travel agency in Lhasa.

Text and photographs on this website are copyrighted materials of Songtsan Travel, so please do not use any images or text from this website without our written permission.