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Tibet celebrates 600th anniversary of leading monastery's founding

More than 10,000 believers have gathered at a leading monastery of Tibetan Buddhism near Lhasa in Tibet over the past three days to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the founding of the temple.

A range of activities have been held during the three-day celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Ganden Monastery, including a commemorative ceremony, Tibetan opera performances and Buddhist services.

The Ganden Monastery was built in 1409 as the first temple of the Gelug Sect, also known as the Yellow Sect, of Tibetan Buddhism. Tsongkhapa was the founder of both the temple and the Gelug Sect.

To commemorate their founder, the Ganden monks staged a dramatic unfurling of a giant thangka -- a form of Tibetan painting art that dates back more than 1,000 years -- with the image of Tsongkhapa before the believers.

"Master Tsongkhapa is the holiest living Buddha in our mind. Although I have a poor health, I must come to attend the significant religious ceremony," said 73-year-old Tsewang.

More than 20 representatives from 11 other Tibetan monasteries of different Buddhist sects also joined in the celebrations.

The Ganden Monastery sits between two mountains about 40 km east of Lhasa, capital of Tibet. It is now under state-level protection with more than 50 buildings. It is home to more than 300 monks today.

"There have been many eminent and learned lamas in the monastery over the past six centuries who have carried forward the Tibetan Buddhism. I believe the future of the Ganden Monastery will be more even better," said Sonam Phuntsog, who is in charge of the monastery.