Rules to respect in Tibet

Rules to follow in Tibet

In the religious places

If you plan to go to Tibet and to visit its monasteries, some rules have to be respected there :
  • - Dress decently: no mini-tops, miniskirts and other pieces of fabric whose name starts with mini.
    This type of clothing is strictly prohibited within the monasteries.

  • - Remove your shoes: that way you leave your profane spirit outside, and you avoid soiling the ground of this sacred place as well.

  • - Don’t shoot the legs out: when you sit on the floor, and you face a sacred object or a lama.
    In the Tibetan culture, it is regarded as disrespectful presenting the lowest part of the body, i.e. the sole of the foot to a person or a sacred object.

  • - clockwise: when you go round a sacred monument, always do it clockwise.

  • - Do not step over anything sacred: if you are in the middle of an assembly, prevent stepping over monks, even their dress if this one trails on the floor, or objects.
    As explained previously, the soil of the foot being the lowest part of our body, it is impolite to present it to somebody, especially a monk or a lama.

  • - Be discrete: avoid the GSM, speak with low voice, don’t rush at the objects of the monastery and do not photograph the monks without asking them first.

  • - Do not point at anything: rather shoot your hand out in the direction of the object, the palm turned upwards.

  • - Do not smoke.
When you enter a monastery, you don’t have to bow down, except if you are Buddhist.

In general

  • - Do not point at anything: This is badly seen in Tibet, and even in Europe.

  • - Avoid stepping over or trampling: For the same reasons as in a monastery, it’s regarded as impolite presenting the soil of the foot, which is the lowest part of our body.
    Watch where you put the feet in order not to trample clothing of the people sitting on the floor because this is also valid for the objects.

  • - When you visit somebody: avoid stepping over coffee tables, bowls, kettles and passing in front of people who sit around the table. Pass behind them instead.

  • - Help yourself with the right hand in the dishes.

  • - If you are on a mountain: take care not to make any din. They say that it can cause storms and hail.

  • - When you greet a Tibetan: say “la” after your greeting in order to show your respect.

  • - When you eat or drink: be discrete, avoid eating or drinking noisily, and don’t binge.

  • - Do not pose your hand on the head of somebody: in Tibet, this gesture is reserved to lamas.

  • - Be courteous: When you cross somebody on a narrow way, make way to him/her.

  • - When you visit a Tibetan family: your host generally proposes a glass of barley wine to you, you must initially drink a mouthful, the host fills your glass again, you drink again a mouthful, the host fills your glass again and then only you can drink the whole glass.


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