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In 1961, Tibet began to hold a general election, unprecedented in its history. Ex-serfs and ex-slaves enjoyed their right to be masters of the country for the first time. Exercising their right to vote and stand for election as endowed by the Constitution, they participated in the elections of deputies to national and local people's congresses. In 2002, 93.09 percent of electorates in Tibet participated in the direct elections at the country levels, with a 100 percent voting rate in some places. Tibetan and other ethnic minority deputies account for over 80 percent of the total number of deputies to the people's congresses at regional and prefectural levels, and their percentage is higher than 90 percent at country and township levels.


Since the Tibet Committee of the Chinese People's Political and Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was founded in 1959, Tibetan people have taken all of the five terms of chairmanship of the committee. At present, Tibetan and other ethnic minority people account for 87.5 percent among the chairperson and vice chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and 69.23 percent of the total members of the committee. They make up 57 percent of the governor and vice governors of the region, 89.4 percent of the CPPCC Tibet Committee members and 90.42 percent of the Standing Committee members of the CPPCC Tibet Committee. Tibetan and other ethnic minority people also constitute 77.97 percent of the government staff at regional, prefectural/municipal and county levels, and form 69.82 percent of court staff and 82.25 percent of procuratorate staff at these levels.


Of the 2,985 deputies to the third session of the 10th National People's Congress, 21 came from Tibet. They include 13 of the Tibetan ethnic group, one of the Moinba ethnic group, and one of the Lhoba ethnic group. Female deputies number five. The 14th Dalai Lama, the 10th Panchen Erdeni, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei, Parblha Geleg Namgyi and Radi all used to serve as members of the NPC Standing Committee. At present, 29 people of the Tibetan and other ethnic groups work as CPPCC members and as members of its Standing Committee. They include Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei and Parblha Geleg Namgyi who are vice-chairmen of the CPPCC National Committee.


In accordance with the Constitution, the self-government organs of the Tibet Autonomous Region exercise the functions and powers of a provincial-level government, as well as regional autonomy, implementing the state laws and policies in light of the local conditions. The People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region not only enjoys the power of a general provincial legislature to formulate local laws and regulations, but also have the power to formulate rules of autonomy and separate regulations based on the political, economic and cultural characteristics of local ethnic groups. Statistics show that since 1965, the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and its Standing Committee have formulated 220 local laws and separate regulations concerning various aspects, such as the construction of political power, social and economic development, marriage, education, spoken and written language, judicature, forest, grassland, wild animals and natural resources protection. All these laws and regulations bear strong regional ethnic autonomous characteristics.


According to the relevant provisions of the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy, the Tibet Autonomous Region has the right to implement in a flexible way or not to implement the resolutions, decisions and instructions of higher-level government departments that are not suitable for the actual conditions of Tibet, with the approval of the higher-level government department. It is also in a position to work out rules and regulations as a supplement to State law in the light of the local conditions. For instance, in 1981, the Standing Committee of the TAR People's Congress, proceeding from the actual conditions with regard to the history and marriage situation of Tibet, adopted the Modified Regulations of the TAR for the implementation of the PRC Marriage Law, which lowers the legal age for Tibetans to get married by two years. It also specifies that those involved in the system of polyandry or polygamy may continue in such relationships, so long as they do not volunteer to cut the ties among them.



Given the special geographical conditions in Tibet, working people in the region work 35 hours a week, or five hours per week less than other parts of China.


While following the national way to celebrate traditional festivals, the Tibetans also celebrate the Tibetan New Year, Shoton (Sour Milk Drinking) Festival and other traditional festivals. 


Of the traditional festivals, the Tibetan New Year is the most important. The festival lasts from the first to the 15th day of the first Tibetan month. But preparation for the celebration begins in early December of the previous year. The 29th day of the 12th Tibetan month is the Tibetan New Year's Eve. On the first day of the first Tibetan month, people of the younger generation congratulate people of the older generation by saying "Tashideleg (good luck and auspicious)". This is followed with breakfast, during which they offer toasts with qingke barley wine. On this day, the street is almost deserted as all stay at home for the celebration or performing religious service. On the second day, they visit friends and relatives. Folk artists perform Tibetan opera here and there. Such activities last three to five days before the Tibetans turn to Buddhist rituals held to make the deities happy. In Lhasa, the Grand Summons Ceremony is held. In Qamdo in eastern Tibet and the Changtang Grasslands in northern Tibet, people begin to take ritual walks around holy mountains and give alms to monks to seek a bumper harvest and good luck.


Major Festivals in Tibet



Time and Major Content

Tibetan New Year

The most important festival begins on the first day of the first Tibetan month. (It fell on February 21 of 2004, and February 9 of 2005).

Grand Summons Festival

Held on 4th-25th days of the first Tibetan month. Monks gather in Lhasa for prayer and debate on Buddhist doctrines.

Lantern Festival

Held on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month. Butter lamps were formerly created to worship Buddha. Later on, these lamps were added with shelves, human figures, flowers, animals and birds for appreciation purpose.

Bathing Festival

Taking place in the first half of the 7th Tibetan month, when the Tibetans take a dip in rivers. The festival lasts for one week.

Shoton (Sour Milk Drinking) Festival

The festival nowadays includes Tibetan opera performance. It is therefore also referred to as the Tibetan Opera Festival. It lasts from the end of the 6th Tibetan month to the early days of the 7th Tibetan month.

Horseracing Festival

Held generally from the end of the 7th Tibetan month to the early days of the 8th Tibetan month. Herders also exchange materials among themselves during what they call fair.

Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival

This is held to celebrate the bumper harvest. Festival activities include horse racing, archery and

Tibetan opera performances.

Sagya Dawa Festival

Held on the 15th day of the 4th Tibetan month, it celebrates the day Sakyamuni was born and entered into Buddha-hood, and, according to many, was also the day Princess Wencheng arrived in Lhasa. On that day, residents of Lhasa go out into the streets for gatherings and parties.

Tsangmoling Gyisang Festival

This festival is held on the 15th day of the 5th Tibetan month each year as the World Buddha Worshipping Day. In the first 15 days of the 5th Tibetan month, the Tibetans in Lhasa visit Lingka woods to sing and picnic.

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