Horse Racing Festival in Damxung
It is said that Horse Racing Festival in Damxung is introduced from Mongolia to Tibet. So far a singer who can sing the song in Mongolian comes to sing Mongolian song. Damxung Horse Racing Festival (Dang Ji Ren Horse Race Festival in Tibetan language means Lamas chant sutras.) starts on every July 10th of Tibetan calendar, takes three days, and lasts for more than one month. In fact, the Festival is done for the good harvest, the commodity fair and the entertainment. Gradually, Lama Culture and politics permeate the Festival.
Formerly, the General Headman of eight tribes, called Ruo Ma Ji Qiao. Officials (Jiaben) are chose from the eight tribes by horse racing and archery. Damxung herdsmen always regard Damxung Horse Racing Festival as the most ceremonious assembly. In 1912, Tibetan local government granted Damxung to Sera Monastery. From this time, the headmen are appointed by Sera Monastery and local government.
Horse Racing Festival in Damxung provides a large variety of interesting activities, mainly including:
1. Cultural and recreational activities. It begins on July 10 and end on July 12, during which the horse race is held. The racehorses belong to tribal leaders or come from the best selection of every tribe. Besides, the horse race is fully open for every ambitious contestant. Before the race, the horse will be fed well with forage. The contestants are required to be above 12 years old and below 20 years old. The competition site is located at the Gandankaerba Pasture in front of the local government and the race counts 12 km in total. Judges are consisted of officials (respectively named as Jiaben and Tibetan Troop) from every tribe. At the beginning of the race, two officials (Jiaben) stand at each side of the lane holding a rope as the starting line while the finish line is marked with a white line on the ground. With the pistol fired, the competition formally begins. Contestants who enter the top 20 places will be awarded. Contestants from the first to the tenth place will be awarded a Kara and a colored silk. Besides, the champion will be awarded 100 taels of Tibetan silver and the second 80 taels, the third and forth 70 taels, and the rest from the fifth to tenth will be awarded from 65 taels to 60 taels. From the 11th on, no colored silk will be awarded and an ordinary Kara is awarded, instead. The 11th will be awarded 65 taels of Tibetan silver but at intervals of 1 rank, 5 taels will be less awarded.
Another competition program is the archery match. The contestants are consisted of leaders from all classes of the tribes. Everyone will shoot 3 arrows at the archery target located 100 meters away from the contestants. Anyone who hit the target will be awarded 5 taels of Tibetan silver and a Kara of good quality
2. In the three days, the herdsmen, in particular, the young men and women sing and dance in their best and go after their lovers, after their one-year hard working. The city is full of the festival happiness. According to the rules made by Sera Monastery, all the recreation is forbidden after three-day Horse Racing Festival. In the following month, politics and commodity fair begins.
The local official (Dzongben) preside Horse Racing Festival since Sera Monastery established Damxung Dzong (county). Every year, two of all the officials (Jiaben) from eight tribes manage Horse Racing Festival in turn. Lamas from Sera and some other monasteries which belong to Sera are invited to come to chant sutras. The expense of Lamas’ chanting sutras (named Jiren) is apportioned to all the herdsmen. The expense is not too much (twenty-five grams of silver, or one cup of ghee plus four he of highland barley, or eight cups of tea-leaves, or four taels of salt plus two jin of alkalized soil.), but the cost of Lamas and the local government is very expensive and also is apportioned to herdsmen.
In Horse Racing Festival, the local officials and headmen give the banquet to each other. First, two local officials give the one-day banquet to all the headmen. And then, the headmen from eight tribes invite each other and all the local officials to dinner in turn. Every tribe presents the local officials (Dzongben) with three grams of ghee, one gram of cheese, one Kara and twenty taels of Tibetan sliver, and presents the officials (named Nieba and Zhongyi) with fifteen taels of Tibetan sliver, one gram of ghee, one gram of cheese, and one Kada respectively. At the same, every tribe needs to give eleven employers from the government fifteen taels of Tibetan sliver and one Kada respectively. Besides the former burden, every fifty herdsmen have to give three bundles of firewood, twenty-five grams of sliver and ten cups of ghee to the local government.
All kinds of corvee taxes of every county are calculated and publicly announced in Horse Racing Festival, and all the events of every tribe and the local government are announced.
3. On July and August of Tibetan calendar, herd products are very plentiful. The board herdsmen come to the horse racing assembly to exchange farm products and living goods. It is also a commodity fair, which attract traders from Lhasa, Shigatse, Jianglong, Nagchu, Pangduo and any other county (Dzong). Herdsmen use their domesticated animal products and local specials to exchange ghee, tsamba, tea-leaves and living goods. Monasteries, local governments, tycoons and rich families also come to collect the debt. The assembly is very crowded and thousands of persons join every day.