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Religion Taboos in Tibet

The Tibetan people have long lived on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, which has little contact with the outside world, forming a unique set of customs and taboos. This article mainly introduces the religion taboos that should be paid attention to when traveling in Tibet.

Taboos in Visiting Monasteries

religion taboos in Tibet

If you want to worship or sightsee in a Tibet monastery, you need to get the approval of the lama who manages the temple. When you enter into the monastery, please to pick off your hats at the entrance to show your respects. Women should not wear skits or shorts. 

religion taboos in Tibet

When you are inside the monastery, please keep quiet and do not play here and there. You should not eat garlic which is one of the forbidden foods in Buddhism. You should not smoke, touch the Buddha statues, flip through the Buddhism scriptures or toll the bell at will. Don't wipe your hands or perspirations with any paper or anything with scripture on it.

religion taboos in Tibet

When you do sightseeing inside the monastery, you should not take any photos inside. If you come across a heap of stones or pagodas inscribed with scripture, go around from left to right. But if you're in the temple of Bon religion, you have to go around from right to left. 

Don't point with your fingers in the temple, especially don't point to the Buddha, tangka, sutras and murals. Put your palms together devoutly to show respect for temples and Buddha statues.

Do not cross over a monk's seat, utensils, clothing and various ritual objects in a monastery, let alone Buddhist sutras.

religion taboos in Tibet

When resting in the monastery, please sit cross-legged, but mention that don't sit in the seats of living buddhas or other senior monks. It's best to determine who the seat belongs to before you sit down.

religion taboos in Tibet

When meeting a lama, it is not appropriate to hug him or shake hands with him. It is proper to hold the two hands upright, palms together in front of the chest, and lower the head. It is not wise to talk with them on sensitive topics, such as marriage and the eating of meat. Do not whirl round the prayer wheels anticlockwise.

Do not kill livestock in front of monks or Buddhists who abhor killing.