Losar, The Tibetan New year ལོ་གསར་
Losar means Tibetan New year. This is one of the most important festivals in the entire years, similar to the Christmas in West and Spring festival in Other parts of China. During the Tibetan New year, we will make sure every one of back home to celebrate it. The celebration of the Tibetan new years depends on how big the family circle is. Mostly the celebration will last for 15 days yet some families may celebrate it for a month.
Losar is not only just a family gathering for the celebration but also very important gathering time to spiritual practice and planning for coming years. One of the most important visible features in homes during the Tibetan New Year is the offering made one the house alter and the food.
The preparation of Losar
It is famously said in Tibet, that preparation of the coming New Year starts after the current new year. But if we think about material preparation, it will start one-month prior to Tibetan New year. Particularly in My household my mother and my wife would go for circumambulation around the Potala Palace and Barkhor street every single day. One they way if they encounter someone selling items for the New year celebration, they would buy it and collect it way ahead of Time.
One of the most important preparation we will have to make is the offering of Kapse. Kapse is the deep-fried dough. It can be used both for the offering and the snacks. Traditionally when the families a big and joined family, They would prepare tons of it for the new year. Now we can buy it from the market. we would order it well in advance and store it safely in the house. As we believe, the structure and strongness of your kapse offering can show you how your family will be in the next new year.
The second most important preparation to make is the foods for the new year. Since it is a very long celebration and during the celebration, they will be very less shop opening, we will have to make sure we have enough of all the thing we might need for a month-long celebration. The villagers from the nearby villages are all coming to Lhasa to sells they produce.
The third important preparation we will have to make is the traditional Tibetan cloth. It is considered very auspiciously to look good and great during the time of celebration. We will have to make all the require clothing item well in advance and wash which every we are going to reuse.
The Celebration of Tibetan New Year Losar
29th Day of the last month of the Old Year.
The actual celebration began two days ahead. On the 29th Days of the last month ( or 12th Month). We will begin by cleaning the entire house. We believe by cleaning the entire house one more time before the New Year Celebration will take away all the bad lucks and omens. In the night we have all the family member gathered together for a special soup noodle together. This marks the beginning of family gathering for the New year celebration. This ritual noodle is known as Gutuk. During the ritual of drinking, we will put different shape of dough and handwritten in a bigger dough. It is believed you will get the same items as per your personality. For example, salt is for lazy ass, Sun for fame and Moon for kindness. This fortune cookie kinda custom create a light moment before the beginning the traditional New year.
While everyone is eating noodle, the eldest male member of the family will prepare a human shape made of the Dough. When everyone is finished, we would put the leftover from each cup over that dough statue. Then they would bring it to the road Junction near the house. This is to bring out all the misfortune, illness and bad Karma from the old year.
Now in Tibet, during the dinner time Tibetan Language Television channel, Xizang TV will start to show the Tibetan New Year Gala. We consider it the grandest show in Tibet.
The Losar eve
The word for the Losar eve is called Nangkar. Nangkar is the busiest day in the Losar preparation. On the day all the ladies in the house will prepare all the eatable for the New Year like Meat, Chang (Tibetan Barleywine), Dorma Drassee. All the male member have to clean and put a new curtain to the doors and Windows. They will also have to put a white art on the walls in Kitchen like eight auspicious signs and animals.
Offering for Losar
Our offering to the three jewels of Buddhism is very important and we have to make sure it will stay input until the 15th day of the Losar. If the offering gets demolish, it is considered very inauspicious sign for the family. So the most experienced person in the family will put it out.
The main offering is called Derka. Derka is made of Huge Kapse. In the Bön era in Tibetan History, We offer part of animals for the gods during the new year, Later it is changed to a similar version made with Kapse. Besides this, we offer cheese, Dorma Drassee, crystal Sugar, Brown sugar, Tea, Butter, salt, Thu (Cheese and Braley cake), Sheep head made of butter and small sapling of barley plan.
Droso Chenmar is an offering made in the wooden box with Tibetan Butter art decorated on it. Chenmar is another important part of the ritual. It signified the good wishes of the Agriculture and herders prosperities in the New year.
It will usually take until the late in the night to finish all the preparation for the new year. After all, are done, we will sweep the house one more time. As one the first day of the new year, we are not supposed to sweep our house. We believe it will take out the good luck out from the household.
Finally, before midnight all the members in the house has to wash their head. It signifies washing away all the misfortune and obstacles of the old years.
First Day of the Tibetan New year
It is considered auspicious if you are able to get the first water from the source. That is why every on the first day of the traditional Tibetan new year, the girls from the house going the fetch water from the source River, well or spring.
Mother of the house would prepare Konten and serve it to the rest of the family members in their bed. Konten is the boil Tibetan barley wine with kapse dipped in it.
The first word you should be speaking is Tashi Delek, A Tibetan greeting for auspicious and well being. After everyone will wear their traditional cloth and start the first meal of the new year.
For the sitting arrangement, the elder would sit in the most corner and follow by the younger people as per as their age. after having one cup of the Tibetan Yak Butter tea. The head of the family would bring the Khata to the altar room. After this children would offer khata to elder member and wish them Tashi Delek. Children are given the gift of money.
Then parent would bring Chenmar and barley beer. First, it will be offered to the eldest member and followed by rest of the family members basic on their age. You will have to pick a pinch of tsampa from the Chenmar and toast it up to air saying Tashi Delek wishes. Next it the Braley beer, you will have to dip ring finger of the left-hand side in the beer and toast it up in the air to say the Tashi Delek wish another time.
After this, they will serve Droma Drassee and the Barley porridge. after having this marks the end of the morning ceremony in the house.
The first day of Tibetan New year is considered as the New year for Buddhas and Lamas, so the main agenda of the day is to go to the Monasteries and temples for the Pilgrimage. In Lhasa, we would commonly go to the Jokhang Temple, Ramoche temple and Potala Palace.
The first day is considered so auspiciously that we would refrain from having any financial transactions and bad experience which is why we would return back home as soon as possible.
Second Day of the Tibetan New year
The second day of the Tibetan New Year or Losar is considered as the new year of the Public leaders. Which is why the common practice is for the people to gather around the local government building to thank their leaders for looking after them so well. Some government offices will have a small ceremony for the lay people and government staffs to be merry and have a good time.
It is a very good opportunity for ordinary people to thank the local government and their leaders and staffs.
Third Day of the Tibetan New year
The third day of the Tibetan new year is considered as the New year of the Ordinary family. First, in the morning, everyone will gather around their rooftop of the house to change the prayer flags and performed incense offering rituals. neighbors will exchange their good wishes and chenmar on the rooftop.
In many cases, it is a very good visit the eldest members in their extended family. It is a gathering of the extended family member. It is a time for joy and sharing happiness.
Continuation of the celebration
After the third day. It began the exchange of the in-house parties. Different family members and friends would invite all for the in-house party. The celebration of the New Year will last depending on how big your social circle is.