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Tibetan new year offers the travelers a great opportunity of enjoy the annual festive occasion with local Tibetan People together. Annual new year cerebration is based on the Tibetan Calendar, begins on December 29 and lasts 2 weeks.
The Tibetan New year, also known as Losar Festival, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar. During the festival, people celebrate by some ancient ceremonies which represent the struggle between good and evil. Lamas are chanting and passing fire torches through the crowds. People perform the dance of the deer and amusing battles between the king and his ministers, and so on, people are cheering for the coming new year by dancing, singing, and merrymaking.
(Tibetans are dancing in a coutyard in their traditional clothes to celebrate the Losar festival)
The last two days of the old year called Gutor, people begin to prepare for the new year. At the first Gutor, people have to do some house cleaning, the kitchen must be cleaned in particular because it is where the family prepare food and considered the most important part of a house. The hostess will cook some special new year dishes. One of the dishes is a soup served with small dumplings. The soup is made from meat, rice, sweet potatoes, wheat, Yak cheese, peas, green peppers, vermicelli and radishes. On the second day of Gutar, religious ceremonies will be performed. People visit the monastery to worship and donate money and gifts to the monks. Tibetans also set off firecrackers to get rid of evil spirits which is lurking around.
People get up every early on the New Year's Day, having taken a bath before dressing in new clothes, then put some offerings on the household shrines to start Family praying ceremony. The offerings are very interesting, they are the animals and demons made from a kind of dough called Torma. During the day, the family members will be together to have a reunion dinner and send gifts to each other. The dinner usually consists of cake called Kapse and an alcoholic drink called Chang.
Also, people place various ingredients such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal in dough balls, which are then handed out. The ingredients that one finds hidden in one's dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character. For example, if a person finds chilie in his dough, that means he is talkative. If white-colored ingredients such as 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 one have a "black heart".
On the second day, people visit friends and relatives. At the night, Tibetans whirl burning torches in the homes to drive away evil spirits. The third day of the Tibetan New Year is for visiting local monasteries, where Tibetans make offerings.
Best Time to Go
Tibetan New Year is in winter. It will be more perfect if you are lucky enough to catch up with snow, thus you can take pictures of snowscape and scenery of New Year.
The prime time of photography is in New Year's Eve (on the 30th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar), the first day and the fifteenth day of the first month of Tibetan calendar.
( Wearing a big smile, a local is holding his butter sculpture in his hands.)
Restaurant and Accommodation
Some restaurants will be closed during Tibetan New Year, but it will not cause any problem with travelers and photographers. Winter is the off-season of tourism in Tibet, and you can easily find hotels or guesthouses with low price.
The main shoot place is Jokhang Monastery and Potala Palace in Lhasa. If you want to express the scene of local Tibetan family, you’d better contact a herdsman in suburbs of Lhasa in advance. You will get an unexpected result by visiting a Tibetan family.
(Pious Tibetans prostrate themselves to pay their deepest respect and whorship to Tibetan Buddha.)
Tibetan New Year is several days earlier or later of Chinese New Year. You have to give up Chinese spring festival if you plan to celebrate Tibetan New Year. Tibetan New Year is said to last 15 days, from December 29 to January 15 of Tibetan calendar. Before your trip, you need to inquire about the exact time of Tibetan New Year in advance.In fact, it is relative peace and quiet in Tibetan winter. You can walk around Lhasa to find what you want without disturbance. And much natural scenery can be captured by your camera.
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