- Date: Monday, February 08, 2016 – Tibetan New Year is known by the name of Losar. Traditionally, the Tibetans follow a lunar pattern in their calendar, and as per that lunar based calendar system, one year is made up of twelve months. Tibetan New Year commences on the first day of the first month of each lunar year.
- History: Tibetan New Year celebrations have their customs and rituals deeply rooted to Buddhist ideas and beliefs. However, historians opine that the celebrations of Losar in Tibet can be dated back to a period before Buddhism came into existence. Pre Buddhism Losar celebrations involved people lighting a bunch of incense sticks to dedicate to the local Gods and spirits. The belief was that if the Gods and spirits were kept happy, they shall take care of the wellbeing of the people in the New Year. Celebrations of Losar also involved gratitude for harvest. As Buddhism established a firm footing in Tibet, celebrations of Losar also became tilted towards Buddhist rites and customs. Evolution in time also led to the evolution of customs that commemorate Losar. As per belief, it was during the reign of Pude Gungyal, who was the ninth king of Tibet, there lived an old woman called Belma who taught people how to calculate time based on the phases of the moon. Because of that, some local people refer to Losar as Bal Gyal Lo, where Bal refers to Tibet, Gyal refers to King and Lo refers to Year. This is also since on this day people also celebrate the King’s enthronement.
- Significant Symbolism: There are some traditional symbols that are associated with the commemoration of the Losar celebrations. These symbols are often found sketched on the walls of homes and monasteries. People make these sketches using white powder. There are eight such symbols that are considered to be extremely auspicious for the occasion. It is believed that when Lord Buddha attainted Nirvana or Enlightenment, the Gods gifted these to him as a mark of respect. The objects and their symbolisms are explained below –
- Parasol – This is representative of Royal Dignity.
- A pair of golden fish – This is representative of Good Fortune.
- Conch Shell – This helps to spread the sound of Dharma.
- Lotus Blossom – This is representative of Clarity of Mind that would lead in the path to attain Enlightenment.
- Vase – This is representative of prosperity and longevity.
- Victory Banner – This is representative of victory over worldly pleasures like lust, desires and fear of death.
- The Wheel of Dharma – This is a very important Buddhist Symbol. This is representative of the Noble Eightfold Path that would lead to Nirvana and thereby end all sufferings.
- The Eternal Knot – This is representative of the union of wisdom and compassion and reminds one of the far reaching effects thereof.
- Traditions: Losar traditions in Tibet are deeply rooted to the rituals and beliefs of not only the region but also of principles of Buddhism.
- Spring Cleaning – Preparations to celebrate the Tibetan New Year begins a month before the actual date and it starts with people giving a thorough spring cleaning to their homes. This is also the time for people to decorate their homes with the best artifacts they possess. Prayer flags in the homes are replaced with new and colorful ones. Also, it is time to get new clothes for each and every member of the family.
- New Year’s Eve Customs – There is a tradition of making a dumpling soup by the name of Guthuk in the New Year’s Eve. Each dumpling in the soup nests one of the nine objects that are considered to have symbolic significance. When the soup is consumed, a person finds out what her or his share of dumpling encases. The object found by the person inside the dumpling is believed to determine either how the New Year would fare for the person or would denote the nature of the person. For example, Chili paper speaks of a talkative person, Wool speaks of a loving person, Charcoal represents meanness, Sugar foretells of good fortune, and so on.
- New Year’s Day Customs – On the New Year, people rise and shine early. They take bath and dress in their new clothes. Before the sun rises the women of the family make a wine that is made up of barley. As the sun rises the eldest female member of the family goes to the nearest source of water and gets the New Year’s first bucket of water. Then the family comes together to greet each other and drink the homemade wine. Next it is time to meet and greet extended family members, relatives and friends.
- Evening of the New Year’s Day – In the evening of the actual Losar or New Year’s Day people believe it is time to scare away all evil forces from their life. As such they light torches and carry them around their homes and neighborhood and make noise. This they believe would get rid of all evils and bad spirits.
- Rituals at the Monasteries: In the conventional festivals of the Tibetan New Year, religion assumes a critical part, and consequently all things considered the religious communities too come into the photo in this setting. The festivals for Losar begin at the religious communities on the twenty ninth day of the twelfth month of the customary lunar timetable took after by the Tibetans. On this day the religious communities perform an exceptional custom to conciliate the divinities so they secure the general population will all kinds of positivities as the year progressed.
- Greetings: Some of the common forms of greetings on the occasion of Losar or Tibetan New Year are –
- Happy New Year – ‘Lo Sar Bzang’.
- Prosperity and Goodwill -- ‘Lo Sar Bey Tashi Delek’.
- Prosperity and Happiness -- ‘Gtan Du Bde Ba Thob Par Shog’
- Luck and Fortune -- Lo Sar Bzang’ or ‘Bkra Shis Bde Legs’
- Long life and good health -- ‘A Ma Bag Gro Sku Khams Bzang’
It is likewise the custom to wish Dalai Lama good fortunes for the coming year. For that consecrated pills got Ril Bu are made out of simmered grain mixture, which are then offered to the Dalai Lama. Garma performers then perform a move before Him. The custom of organizing a verbal confrontation between two senior ministers is additionally pervasive. The civil argument is finished up with a joint presentation that follows the standards of Buddhist teachings. The Dalai Lama and the other senior friars are then expressed gratitude toward for managing the insignificant mortals to the way prompting Enlightenment. A formal goodbye is then given to Dalai Lama who then comes back to his dwelling place.
On the third day of the New Year, it is the custom for the general population to visit the cloisters to make offerings to the friars as nourishment, apparel, covers and so on. Ministers regularly favor individuals by checking with white powder on their brow, which is thought to be a declaration of their endowments.
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