Christmas at the top of the world: Catholics in Tibet

Source: Published: 2015/1/26 18:42:23

  • A Catholic church, which is also the only church in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, stands in Yanjing village, Mangkang county. The church is located on a hill, and its unique architectural design integrates Han, Tibetan and Western styles. Photos: Wang Yuanling

  • The church sees the arrival of villagers while preparations for Christmas Mass are made on December 24.

  • Each Christmas, the church invites Tibetan monks from nearby Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to celebrate Christmas together.

  • In preparation for the Christmas ceremonies, church members worked to refurbish all the pews. Every member volunteers at the church ahead of the holiday.

  • A villager works early on Christmas Day to prepare for the congregation at noon.

  • After Christmas Mass, church members prepare cakes and traditional food and drinks. Villagers share their cakes with joy.

  • After enjoying cakes, villagers gather in front of the church to share their candies, cigarettes and drinks, adding to the family-like atmosphere.

  • People prepare yak meat ahead of the Christmas holiday. According to local tradition, eating yak meat is a must after Christmas Mass.

  • A woman kneels at a confessional booth in the corner of the church.

  • Newborns are brought to the Church by their parents and are baptized by the priests. Among fellow Catholics, they are called by their Christian names.

  • Graves are situated in a Catholic cemetery on a hill near the village. Though earth burial is not the traditional practice in Tibet, local Catholics have adopted the ritual.

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