Tibetan New Year 2012 Is Coming
As one of the most siginificant festivals in Tibet, Tibetan New Year 2012 is likely to fall on February 22, 2012 and will last two weeks. Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar in Tibetan language, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar 2012. Tibetan New Year offers the travelers a great opportunity of enjoy the annual festive occasion with local Tibetan People together. During the festival, Tibetan 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.
The word Losar has been derived from two Tibetan words, ‘lo’ meaning ‘year’ and ‘sar’ meaning ‘new’. The Tibetan Buddhists observe the festival to ward off evil spirits and welcome the arrival of the New Year filled with happiness and prosperity. Though the Tibetan New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, the date varies each year. The Tibetans follow the lunisolar calendar, which means that the date is indicative of the moon phase and the time of the solar year as well.
The Tibetan New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Tibet calendar. The date usually falls in the months of January, February or March according to the Gregorian calendar of Tibet. The celebrations of the Tibetan New Year begin on the 29th day of the twelfth month, that is, the day before the Tibetan New Year’s Eve. People get occupied with cleaning their homes and painting them new. The houses are adorned with different decorations and offerings are made known as ‘Lama Losar’. On the New Year’s Eve, a traditional noodle soup is made called guthuk. It contains dumplings made from flour and water. The dumplings are stuffed with each of nine different fortune symbols that determine the fortune of the person in the next year.
In 2012, the grand festival for Tibetans will fall on Feb. 22. On the New Year’s Day, people rise early and dress in their finest and new clothes. They make offerings to the household shrine to pay homage to the God. This day is restricted to the immediate family members only. On the second day, people move out and visit friends and relatives. They exchange greetings and wish one another ‘tashi delek’, which means ‘good luck’. In the evening, people lit torches and move around in their homes warding off evil spirits from their abodes. The third day is marked by visits to the monasteries, shrines and stupas. Clothes and food are donated to the monks and nuns. Back home, different traditional foods are made to celebrate the occasion.
Origin of Tibetan Lunar New Year
Losar has been observed for over 1000 years. Before Buddhism came to Tibet, Tibetans would hold a grand spiritual ceremony to please the local spirits and deities. Step by step, most Tibetans have become followers of Tibetan Buddhism, and Losar has evolved into an annual Buddhism festival especially featuring dancing, chanting, religious practice and other entertainment activities.
Special Food for Celebrating Tibetan New Year
Every household will prepare Qie Ma, an assortment of glutinous rice cakes and stir-fried kernel placed in colorful wooden boxes. In the middle, colorful flowers and highland barley spikes are stuck as decorations. People will also soak highland barley seeds in a bowl of water so that it will grow small shoots during the New Year. Then it will be placed in front of the altar as an offering as part of prayers for a plentiful harvest.
When the New Year approaches, in addition to cooking barley wine, Tibetan women will also make Ka Sai, a kind of pastry stir fried with butter. There are popularly crafted into shapes such as ears, butterflies, slices, squares, and circles. The pastry is then dyed using natural colors and sprayed with granulated sugar. Ka Sai is not only a decoration for the New Year, but also snacks for guests.
Other Customs for Celebrating Tibetan New Year
Homes are painted, new clothes are stitched, debts and quarrels are resolved, intoxicants are drunk in the run-up to New Year’s Day. Homes are decorated with flour paintings of the sun and moon, and small lamps are illuminated in the houses at night.
The first few days of festivities are exclusively family affairs. Tibetan people usually visit their friends and relatives to give them best wishes. In the evening, everyone gathers together to chant, dance, and burn torches which they pass through the crowds to cast away evil spirits and pray for blessings. The city’s or village’s streets are generally very quite on these days.
Later, the festivities roll out onto the streets. In the following days, Tibetans go to the local monasteries, where they make offerings and celebrate the festival with Lamas.
Traditional ways of celebrating Losar have changed somewhat through time. For example, firework is a relatively recent addition to Losar, but have grown in popularity until today they are possibly Losar’s main attraction. These days, on the first day of Losar, good tidings ring out all across the country by means of the electronic media, and Losar celebrations are broadcast on television throughout the region.