Tibet Culture and Customs
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 cultures and customs performed by Tibetan people.
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 to 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 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 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 souls and Tibetan people dislike taking pictures of people without their permission.
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 the 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 lifelong respect.