Gongbo New Year Celebrated in Nyingchi on Nov.30th, 2016
In addition to the well-known Tibetan New Year, Tibet also has several regional new year festivals, like Nyingchi Gongbo New Year, Ngari Pulan New Year, Shigatse New Year, etc. Due to different customs, the time to celebrate this hilarious festival also varies. Nyingchi Gongbo New Year, the earliest new year festival in Tibet, will fall on November 30, 2016.
Why do Gongbo people celebrate new year festival so early? Let's trace back to the Gongbo king period. At the first half of the 13th century, Gongbo area had been heavily attacked by the northern Hor people. At this critical moment, the Gongbo King Ngagyi Gyaibo made a urgent call to all the Gongbo men to defend their homeland altogether. But it was already late autumn, all the men worried that they couldn’t return home to spend the Losa Festival with their families and were reluctant to join the army. Therefore, the king decided to celebrate Tibetan New Year at early October. After the family reunion dinner, soldiers became much braver and finally defeated all the enemies.
To commemorate this heroic battle, Gongbo people began to celebrate this special new year festival on every first day of the tenth month in Tibetan calendar. And the celebration usually starts from the 29th day of the ninth Tibetan month, lasting for nine days. There are a couple of unique folk customs in Nyingchi Kongpo New Year:
1. Beating ghost ceremony
Tibetans were ready for the beating ghost ceremony.
The beating ghost ceremony is held on September 29th in Tibetan calendar. When the night falls, people hold a torch in hand, run into the house, and cast the stones into the corner. It's believed to expel evil spirits from the home.
2. Treating the dog with a fancy dinner
Feeding the dog is one of the most distinct customs in Kongpo New Year.
On the Gongbo New Year's eve, people would treat the dog with foods in the wooden tray. If the dog eats “Tso” (an offering made of Zanba) or pancake, it indicates a good harvest in the following year. If the dog eats butter or milk residue, it implies a thriving animal husbandry. But if the dog chooses meat first, it means that the bad luck will fall on this household. Curiously, it seems that the dog can read people’s mind and won’t eat meat at that night.
3. Eating Jieda
Frankly speaking, Jieda is more delicious than Tsampa.
After the dog enjoyed its meal, people begin to have their new year banquet. Sitting around the fire pit, Gongbo people drink a toast to each other and share a kind of special food-Jieda. Jieda is a rough made of butter, milk, flour and brown sugar. People usually poke it on the sharp stick and then bake over fire for several minutes. With a sweet favor, Jieda is definitely tastier than Zanba.
4. Getting the first bucket of water
A Tibetan woman was carrying the first bucket of water back to home.
Before the sun comes out, Tibetan housewives have already carried the buckets, highland barley wine and "Tso" to the headwaters. It's believed that the first bucket of water on the New Year's Day will bring the good luck for the whole family.
5. Worshiping the goddess of the harvest
Tibetans are dancing around the alter to pray for the good harvest.
On the third day of Gongbo New Year, people bring offerings and highland barley wine to their best piece of fields to worship the goddess of the harvest. They set up a long wooden pole with prayer flags on the top and straw at the bottom, and then put all the offerings on the altar. After Weisang ceremony, the villagers will sing and dance around the altar for Goddess' blessings.
6. Whistling arrows and Guozhuang dance
The whistling arrow competition is extremely popular among Nyingchi local people.
Of course, you can participate various kinds of Tibetan festival activities, among which whistling arrows and Guozhuang dance are the most important items you shouldn't miss out in Nyingchi tour.
Nyingchi Kongpo New Year is one of the typical Tibetan festivals for the mass. Every one can find their own way to enjoy this grand carnival. For the children here, the most interesting thing is put on the new clothes, play the firework, dance in the fields. For the adults, participating in the whistling arrow competition and campfire party must be the greatest pleasure. For tourists, it's a golden chance to get closer contact with local Tibetan people and experience authentic Tibetan culture.
In fact, there are a lot of amazing things to do in Tibet Nyingchi. When Gongbo New Year comes to an end, Tibet winter tour starts to warm up. Under the cozy sunshine, you can not only catch a clear view of Mount Namcha Barwa, watch migratory birds but also pay a visit to Tibetan local families. Please feel free to contact us to dig deeper into the charming Nyingchi.