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Tibetan New Year-Celebration in Full Swing

The Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar. It often falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year, sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference. This year it falls on 22nd of Feb, (Weds). As Li Ningjing tells us, the celebration of the Losa in Tibet is now in full swing.

Tibetan New Year, or Losar is celebrated over a period of 2 weeks. According to the Tibetan calendar, it goes from the first day of the first month to the fifteenth day. Activities are scheduled on a daily basis, but the highlight celebrations are for the first three days.

Dekyi from Lasha tells us that normally Tibetan families do not go out on New Year's Day. So, on New Year's Day, her family stays at home praying and celebrating amongst themselves.

"On New Years Eve, we set out our offerings in front of the family shrine. The offerings are intended to bring good harvest and good fortune. So for the New Year's day, the first thing we did after we got up and washed, was to pray before the shrine for good fortune in the new year. After that, the whole family sat down in a circle and exchanged good wishes and blessings. Then we ate torma, a kind of food that's considered to be auspicious and able to bring blessings."

Dekyi says, preparations for the New Year celebrations began several days in advance.

"We started celebrating the coming of the New Year two to three days before it actually comes. We eat a kind of Porridge soup called Gudu. After that, every family performs a kind of ceremony on the New Years Eve to drive away bad demons, bad deities and bad luck in preparation for the coming of the New Year."

Religious activities play an important part in Tibetan New Year celebrations, as they do with almost every Tibetan traditional holiday. Dekyi herself went to a monastery to pray.

"We do not normally go out on New Year's Day. But a lot of us will go out to monasteries to pray very early in the morning. Tibetan monasteries usually offer Sanskrit reciting and praying activities to the pubic to pray for good fortune for the New Year."

Throughout out the holiday, pious Tibetans will visit every local monasteries to worship Buddha or make offerings.

From the second day of the New Year on, people will put on their holiday best and go out to visit relatives and friends, perhaps enjoying a meal together.

On the third day of the Tibetan New Year, every Tibetan family has an important mission to fulfill. They will put up a new pray flag that will fly on their roof tops for the whole year. But as Dekyi tells us, this year this ceremony has been moved forward.

"This year the Tibetan calendar shows that the first day of the new year is an especially auspicious day, so a lot of families in Lhasa are now busy changing their prayer flag on the roof tops. The pray flags are made of cloth. They have some Tibetan scripts on them. We hang them on sticks and they will fly on every family's roof tops for the whole year. We only change them once every year at New Year's time. The prayer flags are meant for praying for happiness and good fortune."

The Losar festival is characterized by ancient ceremonies and chanting. There are performances portraying battles between good and evil. Lit torches are passed through the crowds. All these make the festival full of dancing, music and merry-making.

We, like Dekyi, wish all the Tibetans who are listening to the show a happy Tibetan new year.


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