Chötrul Düchen, also known as Chonga Choepa or the Butter Lamp Festival, is one of the four Buddhist festivals commemorating four events in the life of the Buddha, according to Tibetan traditions. Chötrul Düchen closely follows Losar, the Tibetan New Year. It takes place on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Tibetan calendar during the full moon, which is called Bumgyur Dawa. The first fifteen days of the year celebrate the fifteen days during which the historical Buddha displayed miracles for his disciples so as to increase their devotion.
Chotrul means “Prayer Wheel” or “Dharma Wheel”, the common religious objects in Tibet, and Duchen means “great occasion” in Tibetan. Hand held wheels are hollow wooden or metal cylinders attached to a handle which when turned are believed to spread spiritual blessing. Chokor Duchen Festival in Tibet is one of the four great seasonal festivals (Losar or Tibetan New Year, Saga Dawa Festival, Chokor Duchen and Lhabab Duchen) celebrated by all Tibetan Buddhists. During those times, it is believed that the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times. The Saga Dawa Festival in 2013 will fall on May 25 in solar calendar.
To commemorate the occasion, Tibetans make lamps, traditionally of yak butter, called butter lamps, in the shapes of flowers, trees, birds, and other auspicious symbols. They also create elaborate displays for the lamps in their homes and in public spaces, sometimes erecting structures as large as a building. All the lanterns are lit in celebration on the fifteenth day of the month.