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Religious life in Tibet revolves around monks and monasteries. The Tibetan word for monk is "trapa," which means “student” or “scholar." It is used to describe the three main categories of monastery residents: students (monks), and scholars and teachers (lamas). Monks and lamas don't necessarily have to be celibate. The religious leaders of many villages are married lamas. Lamas are spiritual guides and master teachers who orally pass on complex rituals and meditation techniques to disciples. They are sometimes regarded as "living gods" (the word lama means "teacher" or "superior one"). Lamas preside over important ceremonies and are believed to possess supernatural powers that can slay demons and bring good fortune, blessings, wealth and good health. Tibetan monks play a major role in the lives of the Tibetan people, conducting religious ceremonies and taking care of the monasteries. Sometimes, in order to maintain a household and to avoid the dividing of property, a younger son is sent to the monastery to be a monk -- the equivalent of knighting a younger son without property in England -- and when the younger brother reaches adulthood, he shares his elder brother's wife. [Source: Washington Post]

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