By Hugh Richardson
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Additional info for Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year
Sk> Archery" 59 The Second Month 19th Day: The Great Assembly of Worship After the eventful days that fill the first month there is an interval before the next great ceremony, the Tsokchô Chenmo. It was instituted according to tradition by the great Régent, Sangye Gyatso (1653-1703), to commemorate the death of the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1682, and that is also stated by Thupten Sangay in his account of the festivals of Tibet. The assembly, which appears to hâve been a political device for the benefit of the Gelukpa church, to enhance the prestige of the Dalai Lama and consolidate the position he acquired in 1642 as head of Church and State, follows the model of the Mônlam Chenmo but on a smaller scale.
It brings together religious and secular elements and marks the formal end of the Monlam Chenmo. On this occasion the cavalry are joined by a band of foot soldiers called Zimchongpa. The orthography and even the meaning of the name are obscure. Nominally they number five hundred but I do not think there were more than two hundred when I saw the ceremony. The men are based in the Sho quarter below the Potala where some of them have houses; others live in neighbouring villages. They have specific duties throughout the year such as carrying banners in processions and pitching the Dalai Lama's Mongolian tent which is taken when he travels.
The senior Shengo read a proclamation by the Seventh Dalai Lama explaining the purpose of the ceremony and then repeated it at several places round the Barkor. Thereafter there were three prayer sessions each day as at the Mônlam Chenmo. On the twenty-fifth of the month a spécial service was held in commémoration of the death of the Fifth Dalai Lama; and on a chosen day a feast, similar to the Lama Gatôn, the priests* banquet, was given to the lamas. During the Tsokchô Chenmo the rule of the Shengo was less ostentatious and oppressive.
Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year by Hugh Richardson