While the world welcomes new year in loud discotheques and concerts, Tibet has its own vibrant way of embracing Losar – the Tibetan new year – that falls in the month of February. The merry affair is an extravagant display of Tibetan traditions, customs, and beliefs blended with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. It is also the time when farmers celebrate the harvest.
Here’s what Losar is all about and why you must attend this kaleidoscopic Tibetan new year 2022.
Losar – the Tibetan new year: Celebrations
The Tibetan word Losar means New Year. Also known as Bal Gyal Lo, Losar celebrations include three days of revelry and merrymaking. It is a much-awaited event that features prayers, chanting, folk music, dance drama, and many other performances. The celebrations also include interesting competitions such as arrow shooting and horse-racing.
The grand festivities make for a wonderful holiday time for culture enthusiasts as well as photographers. It is also a good opportunity for solo travelers and families to explore the traditions and customs of Tibet. It is truly a delight to attend the spring new year and be a part of the Tibetan festivities.
Day wise festivities
People celebrate Losar with good food and new clothes, and by spending time with their family. Losar begins two days before the new year and ends on the first day.
Day 1: Lama Losar – The second last day of the Tibetan calendar
The first day of Losar falls on the 29th day of the 12th month of the year. On this day, Tibetans clean their house and cook special dishes like soup with small dumplings. The monks in monasteries indulge in special rituals in order to prep up for the celebration.
Day 2: Gyalpo Losar – The last day of the Tibetan calendar
The last day of the year, and the second day of Losar is when Tibetans head to the monasteries for praying and offering gifts to the monks. Monasteries arrange religious celebrations while people dress up to enjoy them and have a good time.
At dusk, people celebrate with crackers and fire torches believing that this will scare away the evil spirits. The night is concluded with special reunion dinner, during which kapse (cake) and chang (alcoholic drink) are served along with other delights.
Suggested Read: 15 Colorful Festivals In Bhutan
Day 3: Choe-kyong Losar – The first day of the Tibetan calendar
On the first day of Tibetan new year, people wake up early, bathe, and wear new clothes. They make offerings to the God that mainly include Torma (a dough figurine of animals and demons).
Prayer flags are hung on the hills and roofs, and juniper leaves & incense are burned. Families exchange gifts, gather for dinner, and have a gala time together. The custom of getting the year’s first bucket of water is also very significant. The housewives wake up before the sunrise and head to nearby well/river to fetch water. This is believed to bring good luck in the family.
Though the festival ends on this day, but the celebration lasts for 10 to 15 days.
Extended Losar Celebrations
Chunga Choepa or The Butter Lamp Festival on the 15th day of the Tibetan Calendar
The celebrations of Losar – the Tibetan new year – are concluded with the Butter Lamp Festival, locally called Chunga Choepa. The day is spent making butter lamps and placing them in different corners of the city. Towards the evening, lamas light up the lamps, illuminating the streets.
It is an enchanting view, when everything is bright and lit up, families get together, people dress up, and celebrate with good food and crackers – much like Diwali in India.
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