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Losar – Tibetan New Year festival

by Chloe

The traditional Tibetan New Year is also known as Losar. So how do Tibetans welcome Losar? You are invited to explore with We Travel Guides!

Tibet is one of the countries that use the lunar calendar to calculate time, parallel to the current popular solar system worldwide. Losar is one of the important holidays in Tibetan Buddhism, usually falling in February or March of the calendar every year. Not only in Tibet, but also in Bhutan and Nepal have similar holidays but with slightly different time.

Losar Festival- Tibetan New Year

The Losar or Tibetan New Year is counted as the 1st (first day) of the first month in the Tibetan calendar, when the moon begins a new orbit around the Earth. Usually Losar coincides with the Lunar New Year of the Vietnamese and Chinese, but there are also a few days difference of a few days, or sometimes a month difference.

Tibetans all over the world celebrate Losar within three days, including many traditional activities such as flagging, dancing the Tibetan folk dances, gathering friends and family, going to the temple to pray … Losar is an opportunity for the ethnic cultural identity of the Tibetans to be introduced to the world friends.

The origin of the Losar ceremony

Tibetan tourists often wonder, the origin of the Lorsar Ceremony. Losar ceremony actually originated from an ancient religion in the Qing-Tibet highlands, Bön. According to this legend, in winter, people will carry out worshiping rites with offerings to calm the gods and the spirits, pray for all the good.

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Later, this becomes an opportunity for people, especially farmers, to pray for a year of good weather and good crops. This festival was then held during the plum blossom season, around March. Gradually, when the lunar calendar appeared in Tibet, this festival became the Losar New Year. Attracting a lot of tourists to Tibet for this holiday.

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How do Tibetans celebrate Losar?

The Tibetans started preparing for Losar about a month before New Year festival. Which is decorating, cleaning the house. Shop for new clothes. Family members prepare traditional dishes to worship and enjoy during the holidays.

Celebrate Losar (Tibetan New Year) with the Maitripa College Community this  Thursday - Maitripa College

Tibetans celebrate Losar with delicious traditional dishes such as Sha momo – a kind of dumpling with a delicate thin shell, the inside is kept juicy and moist, but unlike the soup dumplings that have only a little sweet and fatty gravy; Rebgong – as a present for Losar festival, made from flour that has been brewed for hundreds of years, since this bread was invented before there was live yeast; Khapsay and Guthuk…

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Sha momo
Khapsay

At temples and pagodas, decoration and cleaning work takes place just like in Vietnam. The Buddha statues were cleaned, the altar was also dusted and rearranged to be tidy. Tibet is quite far from Vietnam, but in general, the way to prepare for the New Year is not much different!

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However, instead of celebrating Tet until the 6th day, in some places, the 10th day, even in some places … the New Year is not over in January, Tibetans welcome Losar as follows:

The first day is called Lama Losar. On this day, Buddhists will visit the temple, wish the monks New Year, and visit families and relatives. To pray for a good harvest, people often place barley seeds and tsampa barley on the ancestral altar. Women in the family will often wake up early to cook barley wine and Dresil soft rice for everyone in the family to enjoy on this Lama Losar Day.

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The second day called Ghyalpo Losar, meaning Losar of the king, aims to honor the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader of the Tibetans and the leaders of the community. In the old days, this was an opportunity for kings to give gifts to people during festivals. On this day, there will be special dances and performances only once a year.

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The third day, also the last day, is called Choe-kyong Losar. On this day, people hold glass offerings to the Buddhas and deities to pray for blessings and peace. People also fly flags to worship and visit temples.

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Thought after three days was over, but… no, after these three days, Tibetans continued to eat and celebrate the New Year until… the next 12 days, that is, until the full moon of January.

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The new year just ends with the Chunga Choepa ceremony, also known as the Butter Lamp Festival, in which sculptures will be made from yak dairy butter. This is a sacred activity for Tibetans, and the monks must perform rituals to purify the body before joining. After the festival, these art pieces will be placed in monasteries.

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