The Sera Monastery is one of the three must-see cultural attractions in Lhasa. Many such monasteries host debates amongst religious teachers, also known as lamas. In Sera Monastery, the scale of the debate, its quality, and the level of thoughtfulness are extraordinary.
At 3 o’clock, monks wearing red robes start to enter. After a short opening ceremony, lamas divide into one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-one discussion groups. When the debate starts, the hosts stand while the debaters sit and take turns once the topic is proposed.
As the debate progresses, the spectacle gets increasingly interesting. Debaters use vigorous hand gestures, stare each other down intensely and loudly clap their hands to strengthen their arguments. For the audience, the fierce debate is an amazing performance to behold.