- Date – Friday, 16 February 2018
Also known as Losar, Tibetan New Year 2018 gets celebrated for 15 days straight but main celebrations take place on the first three days starting on the 16th of February, Friday and ending on the 18th of February, Sunday.
This is the New Year’s Festival of Tibetans and occurs on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan Calendar. The Nepalian counterpart of this festival is known as ‘Lhochhar’ and is celebrated about eight weeks earlier than Losar. This is the most important festival on the Tibetan Calendar and its date varies with the Chinese calendar but by maximum a month sooner or later.
- History Of Tibetan New Year
Losar marks the arrival of the Buddhism into Tibet and dates back to an ancient incense-burning ritual held during the winters by the Bon religion. Historically, the religious Tibetans used to live life by doing Husbandry. Whenever they had a bumper harvest, they used to celebrate it by dancing and singing and with days gone by, it started to happen at the begging of a new year. It was said that during the rule of the ninth Tibetan king, Pude Gungyal, started the custom of merging the harvest festival into the annual Losar festival.
- Eve Of Tibetan New Year
On the last two days of the year, known as Gutor, people already start preparing for the arrival of Losar. On the first Gutor, they indulge in major house cleaning and kitchen has to be specially made spick and span as it’s considered to be the most important part of the house by the Tibetans. After cleaning the kitchen, the lady of the house prepares special dishes such as a dish of small dumplings with soup known as ‘Guthuk’. Then various ingredients like chilly, salt, rice, wool and coal in dough balls and then whoever finds whichever ingredient in his ball, it speaks of his character.
They also make torches from straw, firecrackers and Tsampa and carry them around at night to ward off evil spirits. On the second Gutor, people pay visits to the monastery for worshipping and to make gift offerings and money to the monks. The windows of the house will be adorned with fragrant curtains and items like goat head, green barley shoots, qemar, kasai, and other dried fruits are offered before the shrine inside the house.
- Other Preparations For Losar
Families paint signs of auspicious things like the sun, star, and moon using flour on their walls and gathering cedar and juniper branches to burn as incense. It’s said to settle all quarrels and settle all debts before the New Year. People buy new clothes and special dishes like kapse i.e. fried twists are made. A favorite drink known as ‘chang’ which is actually barley beer is served warm to everyone.
- Activities Of Tibetan New Year
It’s customary for everybody to get up early on the New Year’s Day and after taking a bath dress up all in new clothes. They then make offerings to the family shrine and start the family praying ceremony. There are special offerings made on this day which are in the form of animals and demons but made from a special kind of dough known as Torma. During the day, all the members of the family gather together, to have a reunion dinner and exchange gifts among each other. The menu will particularly consist of a cake known as Kapse and an alcoholic drink known as Chang.
It’s customary for the lady of the house to go and get “First Water of The Year” and serve everyone this water which is considered to be auspicious. On the second day of Losar, people generally visit their friends and family and they carry New Year’s greetings in the form of Qemar filled with fried barley, straw of barley, barley powder, tsampa and flowers made of Yak butter. There will be spirited sittings in every house and people chat while eating Tibetan delicacies and drinking yak butter tea. The third day of Losar is kept for visiting the local monasteries. Tibetans indulge in making offerings on this occasion.
One of the customary rituals on this day is to burn the branches of pine trees, cypress or other herbs as a sort of offering aromatic herbs to the Gods and this ritual is known as Wei Sang. The other popular activities include hanging of new prayer flags on rooftops or mountain tops. During the hanging of new flags, tsampa is also splashed into the air for peace and happiness in the upcoming New Year. Also, picnicking, dancing, archery, singing, dart playing are among the other customary and fun activities.
- Food Of Tibetan New Year
Tibetan New Year dishes include food without the use of fish, chicken, duck etc. Instead starting from the eve of the New Year itself, there’s a ritual of eating one or many delicacies each day which generally consist of sweets, fruits and vegetables. Eating sugarcanes and green bananas are considered to be auspicious. Also, the most popular food eaten during this time is Guthuk which is symbolic of New Year.
- Tibetan New Year’s Greetings
Greeting used during the Tibetan New Year by the Tibetan people showcase their wishes for longing for peace, happiness, prosperity and blessings for the New Year. The way the people address each other is also indicative of their social position in the family. Tibetans greet each other with all their heart during this special occasion.
- Best Places To Visit During Tibetan New Year
Known by all, the heart of all New Year’s fun and celebrations and pilgrimage takes place in Lhasa. In the center of Lhasa, widespread celebrations take place and there are entertaining performances and diverse religious worshipping on this day. There are six top tourist places that you can visit in Lhasa during the times of celebration of Tibetan New Year.