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Published on Jan 18, 2011
Milarepa is one of Tibet's most famous yogis and poets, a student of Marpa Lotsawa, and a major figure in the history of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in western Tibet to a prosperous family but when his father died, Milarepa's uncle and aunt took all of the family's wealth. At his mother's request, Milarepa left home and studied sorcery. While his aunt and uncle were having a party, he took his revenge by summoning a giant hail storm to demolish their house, killing 35 people, although the uncle and aunt are supposed to have survived. Milarepa later lamented his evil ways. Knowing that his revenge was wrong, Milarepa set out to find a lama and was led to Marpa. Marpa proved a hard task master. Before Marpa would teach Milarepa he had him build and then demolish three towers in turn. When Marpa still refused to teach Milarepa he went to Marpa's wife, who took pity on him. She forged a letter of introduction to another teacher, under whose tutelage he began to practice meditation. However when he was making no progress, Milarepa returned to Marpa, and after practicing very diligently for twelve years Milarepa attained the state of complete enlightenment. He is said to be the first to achieve this state within one lifetime.
An annual event, the Yarkyi Festival celebrates the foundation of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA). It is normally held in August. The 3 day long celebration consists of TIPA teams competing against each other in song and dance contests.