Tibetan New Year

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Tibetan New Year, known as Losar is a very important festival for Tibetans which is held every year according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The Tibetan New Year is always after the western new year and festivals and celebrations of all kinds have been held everywhere in Tibet since ancient times to the present time. Most ancient Tibetan festivals would celebrate in the end of cold weather, or before planting in spring and harvest in autumn, it was formed for a long time and gradually has become a kind of tradition habit.

Nowadays, many people from country side go to work in the cities and many family members in the city work in different places do not get time to gather but Tibetan new Year is a really good time for family gathering together, almost everyone comes back home during Losar and it becomes kinds of habits for the family members, especially for paresnt to wait for the gathering of family members. Each parents hope their children will be reunited with them at home during Losar, housewives are waiting for their husbands come back to celebrate Losar. At these really special days, Tibetans also have many significant customs.

According to historical records, Tibetans had our own calendar, Hundreds of years later, the YongZhong Benism (the original religion of Tibet) can accurately calculate the winter solstice return time and take it as the beginning of the year, forming festivals and various rituals. Many customs and lifestyles of modern Tibetans are also handed down from the age of ancient Shangshong Kingdom. Shangshong Kingdom was before the king Songtsan Gampo reunited Tibet and they practiced Bon religion by that time .

Each year, at the beginning of the twelfth month of the Tibetan calendar, people begin to prepare new year’s products. In the middle of twelve month of Tibetan calendar, each household successively makes a kind of bun called, Kasai in Tibetan. The ingredient of Kasai is white flour, sugar, milk, water, deeply fried in the butter. There are many kinds of buns and every single family has buns to offer during Tibetan New Year as a snack which is the symbol of auspiciousness and good luck for the new coming year.

When Losar is very close to arrive, each family must prepare a rectangular Chema, a bucket is filled with Tsampa, fried wheat grain, ginseng fruit and other food mixed with butter, which is painted with highland barley spike, cockscomb and color flower board made of butter. Piles of Kasai which is made of barley wheat flour, deep fried in the oil called Derkha in Tibetan to offer the Buddha. And they also prepare a sheep’s head made of colored butter. All of these have the meaning of celebrating for having a good harvest and wishing good weather and prosperity for people and animals in the new year. Two days before New Year’s Eve, people will clean the house clearly, put new card pads and paste New Year’s pictures. On the gate, a symbol of eternal auspiciousness is painted with lime powder to show that life is abundant and safe. On that night, the whole family was busy until the night. This evening, each family will have the dough noodles (Gutu). We specially make some dough with different shapes, such as stone, pepper, charcoal, wool, etc. each shape has a saying. Example,  stone indicates hard heart, charcoal indicates black heart, pepper indicates spicy mouth, and wool indicates soft temperature. People who eat these different dough will spit out on the spot and see what they get in their dough ball. When everyone in the family opens it, it gives sense of humor and makes everyone laugh at the new year’s Eve. This is a kind of special family gathering supper and entertainment activity. In the evening of new year’s Eve, every family arranges all kinds of food in front of the Buddha statue.

Whatever kinds of festivals that Tibetans have, we always first think the God and so called three jewels of Buddha. Whatever we eat or drink or wear, we always must offer to the three jewels of Buddha before eating or drinking ourselves so during the Tibetan New Year, it is very important to make offering to the Buddha in the family’s chapel to pray for peace, happiness, prosperity, good luck for all the sentient beings in the coming New Year.  

At the first day of the new year, the young crops, oil seeds, different kinds of fruit, dried nuts, butter, cheese, milk, butter lamp, sheep’s heads, and five grain cups are placed on the tea table in the shrine before eating yourselves. In the very morning of the first day of the new year, the housewife carries back the “auspicious water” from the river, she wakes up the whole family, sits down according to the rank of generations, and the elders bring the five grain dipper to each of them to grab a few grains first, throw them to the sky to express the sacrifice to the gods, and then grab one point in turn and put them into their mouths. Since then, the elders have wished “Tashi Delek” (good luck) in order, and the descendants have congratulated “Tashi Delek Phunsum Tsok” (good luck and prosperity ). After the ceremony, they ate the ginseng fruit cooked in oatmeal and butter called Droma Dreisil which is the symbol of the auspiciousness and good luck and then toast each other with barley wine. On the first day of the new year, sweeping the floor is generally forbidden and unlucky words are not allowed, visitors are not allowed to visit each other. On the second day of the the new year, relatives and friends go to visit each other to celebrate the new year and give each other Khada, Tibetan scarf. Men, women, old and young are all dressed up for the festival. They meet each other and say “Tashi Delek” and “happy festival”. This activity lasts for fifteen days or even longer. During the Tibetan New Year, in the square or open grassland, everyone is singing and dancing in a circle and string dance. With the accompaniment of six stringed guitar, cymbals and other musical instruments, people step on the ground hand-in-hand to celebrate. Children set off firecrackers. The whole area is immersed in the festive atmosphere of joy, celebration and peace. Singing Tibetan Opera in urban and rural areas, dancing together In the pastoral areas, and singing all night long. People also engaged in wrestling, throwing, tug of war, horse and Yak racing, archery and other activities.

 As soon as twelfth of the Tibetan lunar calendar comes, every household begins to make New Year’s reserves. In the first few days of the New Year, no matter in the farming or pastoral areas, men of all ages should shave their hair and woman’s hair should be washed and braided. For example, if a man has long hair at the New Year, and a woman does not wash and comb her hair at that day, it means that her family or their heart is full of grief and she has no intention of dressing up in this year. Washing, combing and dressing are good luck for the coming year. From 28th of twelfth Lunar month, Tibetans begin cleaning the inside and outside of the house, village walkways, corners, and even the drawers inside the house. When cleaning the ceiling and chimney, you need to choose a good day, such as 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. Then, the whole family kneaded a witch with Tsamba, and poured the leftover “Gu Tu” and bones into the bowl. Holding the witch and scraps of food, then running outside by a woman, a man lit a group of hay closely with the woman and read: “devil out, devil out!” Let the hay burn to ashes with the witch and the leftovers. At the same time, the children set off firecrackers to drive away demons and usher in the auspicious New Year. It is believed to drive all the evils spirit, bad luck and all the disease out of the family and bring all the good luck for the New Year.

In the new year, you should wear the most beautiful clothes and the most precious jewelry. Even those with poor financial conditions should prepare a new year’s robe and one or two decorations. Of course, come from the nature of Tibetan people’s love for beauty. However, it is said that wearing new clothes during the new year means pleasing God.

On the first day of the Tibetan New Year, the host held “Chema” in both hands to bless the guests. The guests pinched some Tsampa and highland barley from “Chema” and threw them into the sky. Then they tasted some in their mouths and said: “Tashi Delek” (good luck). Then, the hostess held the copper pot with Khadha in it and toasted the guests frequently. During the festival, blessings are everywhere, toasts are everywhere, singing and dancing are everywhere, whether you know it or not about the traditional habit, you can’t pass without drinking three bowls.

From the second day of the Tibetan New Year, people began to visit each other, start New Year’s greetings and treat each other. During the Tibetan New Year, people say “Losar Tashi Delek (happy New Year), etc. From the second day of the New Year, the performance team of playing traditional Tibetan drama.  Relatives and friends visit each other for three to five days or till 15th of the first lunar month. The person holding the blessing of auspicious words and read loudly outside the door, then others hurriedly holds “Chema” and greets each other: “Tashi Delek Phunsum Tsok!” (wish you good luck and happiness!) “A Ma Ba Dro Gong Kam Sang!” Wish the hostess have a long and healthy life “.

On the third day of the Tibetan New Year, the “ridge God” was worshipped. On this day, people boarded the roofs of all houses, put brand-new prayer flags on the roofs, then simmered and burned cypress branches, threw Tsamba into the air, and the waving prayer flags and the rising “smoke” carried people’s wishes to the sky. On the third day of the first month, Lhasa people come in groups to a mountain or close to a river, where they planted Sutra flags and streamers to worship the mountain gods and water gods. Then they are singing, drinking and laughing in the leeward and sunny place.

The Tibetan New Year is the biggest festival of the year, to celebrate this festival as a good beginning of the new year. After the new year, people put into normal work and production. Celebrating the new year is the starting point and the beginning. People hope that this starting point and the beginning is so important for the New Year. Maybe this is a good wish for celebrating the  Tibetan New Year in the best way. Celebrating the Tibetan New Year is no exception. During this period , train and plane tickets will reduce the price, it will provide a convenient condition for people who want to travel to Tibet. If you plan a Tibet tour during the Tibetan New Year, you will indeed experience a real life of Tibetans and extremely have the best and authentic Tibet Festival Tour experience.

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