Wednesday marked Losar, or Tibetan New Year, and Buddhists at Urgyen Samten Ling in Salt Lake City gathered to honor the event with prayers and chanting devoted to Vajrakilaya, a wrathful deity invoked to dispel negativity and remove obstacles to enlightenment and compassion.
Lama Thupten Dorje Gyaltsen, who led the solemn ritual, said festivities and celebrations that usually accompany the Losar holiday were not being held this year in recognition of suffering in Tibet and elsewhere in the world.
As many as 22 monks, nuns and other Tibetans have set themselves on fire during the past year to protest Chinese rule, according to the International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington-based group.
About 40 of the Salt Lake City temple's members, or sangha, participated in the colorful and meditative evening ceremony. According to the Tibetan lunar calendar, arrival of the new moon Feb. 22 brought the start of Water-Dragon Year 2139.
Established in 1994, the temple at 740 S. 300 West adheres to the Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet, pursuing enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.