Tibet New Year Festival(Losa Festival)

Last Update: 2008-2-28 0:29:00; By chinatravelservice

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The Tibetan New year, known as Losar, is the most important local festival which is celebrated for 2 weeks during the month of December and January as per the lunar calendar.

Losar festival commemorates the arrival of new year, celebrated by people who live in Ladakhi or Tibet. The festival is marked with ancient ceremonies,the performance fights between good & evil, chanting and passing the fire torches through the crowds. The dance of the deer and the exciting battles between the King and his ministers make the festival more joyful. This festival is full of dancing, music and merry-making.

In the last two days of the old year, which is called Gutor, people do some preparing for the New Year. The first day of Gutor is spent doing the house cleaning. The kitchen must be cleaned especially because that it is the most important part of the house, and the soot sweeped off the chimney. Some special dishes will be cooked for the New Year. One of the dishes is delicious soup served with small dumplings. The soup is made from meat, wheat, rice, sweet potatoes, cheese, peas, green peppers, vermicelli and radishes. The dumplings contain something such as scraps of wood, paper or pebbles. Those foretell the future ahead with it being good or bad.

Religious ceremonies will be holding on the second day of Gutor. People would go visit the monasteries and give gifts to the monks. They let off firecrackers and torches to get rid of evil spirits which is lurking in homes.

On New Year's Day they get up early and take a bath, put their clothes on. They then honor the gods and place offerings in front of their household shrines. The offerings usually consist of animals and demons from a kind of dough called torma. Also, this day is considered as family day when gifts are exchanged and meals are shared. The foods usually consist of a kind of cake called Kapse and an alcoholic drink called chang which is used to keep warm.

The Story of Losar

Happy Losar (Tibetan New Year). The word Losar is a Tibetan word means New Year. LO stands for year and SAR stands for new.

The celebration of Losar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet. At that time Tibetans were followers of the Bon religion, and held a spiritual ceremony every winter. In the ceremonies, people provides large amount of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. Later, this religious festival developed into an annual Buddhist festival which is believed to originated in the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet. The festival is said to begin when an old woman called Belma introduced the measurement of time 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 were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies started to celebrate these new capabilities, and it can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the basic knowledge of the science were introduced in Tibet, this festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year's festival.

The calendar consists of twelve lunar months and Losar begins on the first day of the first month. The celebrations for the Losar begin on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth month in the monasteries. That is the day before the Losar's Eve. On that day the monasteries do a special kind of ritual and prepare for the Losar celebrations. In that day, a kind of special noodle called guthuk which is made of nine different ingredients including dried cheese and various grains is made. Also, people hide various ingredients in dough balls which is given out, such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal. The ingredients one finds hidden in one's dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character. If someone finds chilie in his dough, that means he is talkative. If white-colored ingredients such ad 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 you have a "black heart".

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