Dates: The new year begins on February 22 and will be celebrated over a period of 2 weeks.
The Tibetan New year, also known as Losar, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar. It is celebrated over a period of 2 weeks, generally during the months of December and January (see Tibetan New Year dates). Take a China Highlights Tibet Tour to experience the local pageantry of Tibet.
Losar festival is celebrated by Tibetan people. It is marked with ancient ceremonies that represents the struggle between good and evil, by chanting, and by passing fire torches through the crowds. A certain amount of levity is provided by events such as the dance of the deer and the amusing battles between the King and his various ministers. Losar Festival is characterized especially by dancing, music, and a general spirit of merrymaking.
During the last two days of the old year, which is called Gutor, people in Tibet begin to prepare for the New Year. The first day of Gutor is spent doing the house cleaning. The kitchen especially must be cleaned because it is where the family's food is prepared, and hence is the most important part of the house. The chimney is also swept free of dirt. Special dishes will be cooked. One such dish is a soup served with small dumplings. The soup is made from meat, wheat, rice, sweet potatoes, cheese, peas, green peppers, vermicelli and radishes. The fillings for dumplings include scraps of wood, paper or pebbles.
On the second day of Gutar, religious ceremonies are held. People go to visit the local monastery to worship and give gifts to the monks. Tibetans also set off firecrackers to get rid of evil spirits which is lurking around.
On New Year's Day, Tibetans get up early, and put on new clothes after having taken a bath. They then worship the gods by placing offerings in the front of their household shrines. The offerings usually consist of animals and demons made from a kind of dough called torma. In addition, this day is for family members to exchange gifts. Families also have a reunion dinner, which usually consists of a kind of cake called Kapse and an alcoholic drink called chang, which is drunk to keep warm.
The Story of Losar
The word of Losar is a Tibetan word which means New Year. The word is composed of two characters: LO and Sar. Lo means Year and Sar means New.
The celebration of Losar can be traced back to Tibetan pre-Buddhist period. At that time, Tibetans were followers of the Bon religion, and held a spiritual ceremony every winter. During the ceremonies, people burnt a large quantity of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. Later, this religious festival developed into an annual Buddhist festival, solar, in the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet.
The festival is also believed to have begun when an old woman called Belma introduced the measurement of time to Tibet based on the moon's phases. This festival was held in autumn, when the apricot trees blossomed. It may have been the first celebration of the traditional farmers' festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation of soil were first introduced to Tibet. Religious ceremonies started to celebrate these new capabilities, and these celebrations are believed to lead to the Losar festival.
The Tibetan calendar consists of 12 lunar months, and Losar begins on the first day of the Tibetan month. The celebrations for the Losar begin on the 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar in Tibetan monasteries. That is the day before the Losar's Eve. On that day, monasteries hold a special kind of ritual in preparation for the Losar celebrations. In addition, a kind of special noodle called guthuk, which is made of nine different ingredients including dried cheese and various grains, is made.
Also, people place various ingredients such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal in dough balls, which are then handed out. The ingredients that one finds hidden in one's dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character. For example, if a person finds chilie in his dough, that means he is talkative. If white-colored ingredients such as salt or rice are hided in the dough, it is believed as a good sign. If someone finds coal in his dough, it has the same meaning as finding coal in the Christmas stocking; it means that one have a "black heart".
The last day of the year is, as earlier indicated, a time to clean and prepare for the approaching New Year. Houses are thoroughly cleared, after which people get dressed, and proceed to have reunion feast, which is similar in spirit to the Han Chinese New Year feast. Read more on Chinese New Year food.
Traditionally, on the first day of the New Year, the housewife will get up very early. After cooking a pot of barley wine for the family, she will sit beside the window awaiting the sunrise. As the first ray of sunshine of the New Year touches the nearby earth, the housewife takes a bucket and heads for a nearby river, or well, to fetch the year's first bucket of water, which is seen as the most sacred, clearest water of the coming year. The family that fetches the first bucket of water from the river/the well is believed to be blessed with good luck for the coming year.?
In Ta'er Monastery, on the first day, Lamas will hold religious celebrations, which include worshiping the God, chanting Buddhist, scriptures and having a new year banquet.
On the second day, people visit friends and relatives. At the night, Tibetans whirl burning torches in the homes to drive away evil spirits.
The third day of the Losar is for visiting local monasteries, where Tibetans make offerings.
On the third day, Tibetans in Lhasa especially visit the local monasteries, where they make offerings. Tibetan New Year usually last 15 days.