Lhasa, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Although the Tibetan New Year is still days away, pilgrims in Tibet are already basking in festivity as they celebrated the Sera Bengqin Festival on Wednesday.
At around 11 a.m., Tibetan Buddhists, with traditional white Hada scarves in hand, began a slow march while praying in a line stretching for kilometers outside the Sera Monastery, a renowned religious site in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
Among them was Konchog Dorje, who hails from Tibet's Nagqu Prefecture, hundreds of miles from the regional capital.
"I prayed for a happy and healthy life for my son," he said, describing the festival as the most sacred thing before the Tibetan New Year, which falls on March 2 this year.
Konchog said that he felt blessed after he and his one-year-old son were touched on the heads by the Vajra Pestle, a sacred religious instrument.
Sera Bengqing refers to the Vajra Pestle blessing ritual exclusively held in the Sera Monastery each year. Traditionally, pilgrims gather at the monastery to receive blessings from the Vajra Pestle on December 27 of the Tibetan calendar each year.
Tibetans believe that the instrument can bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits.
Thousands of believers began gathering at the ritual site on Tuesday.
Karma Chosphel, a monk with the monastery, told xinhua that they started preparing for the religious event a week ago. While the ritual normally lasts only 24 hours, the clergy will make sure that all worshippers have been blessed, he said.
Wang Lan, a tourist from south China's Guangdong Province, had a great day at the monastery.
"It is so great to see that the grand traditional event is still held today," Wang said.
More than 10,000 Tibetan Buddhists are estimated to have attended the event, with 20 free buses dispatched by local authorities to transport the pilgrims.
Official statistics show that Tibet boasts 1,787 religious sites, with the number of monks and nuns standing at around 46,000.