Sera Monastery is one of Tibet’s most important Gelug monasteries. Located around two kilometers north of Lhasa, It is an ancient university monastery where monks receive higher education from learned lamas. The monastery was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Chojay Sakya Yeshe, a disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa (the founder of the Gelugpa Sect). ‘Sera’ in Tibetan means ‘wild rose’. The monastery was named Sera because there were a lot of wild roses blooming around the hill where the monastery was built. The huge monastery is divided into three sections – the assembly hall, the college where the monks receive education and the dormitories or the living and dining quarters of the monks.
The monastery is known for its lively debates. Monks at Sera Monastery are required to take part in debates as part of their training. The senior monks fire various questions related to the Buddhist doctrines to junior monks, who are expected to respond after the senior monk claps his hands. The debates take place in an open courtyard and are often noisy and punctuated with repeated hand claps.