Celebrate New year Tibetan style
When: Varies. February 11th 2013.
Losar is the Tibetan word for “new year, lo meaning year and sar meaning fresh or new and it is the most important holiday in Tibet.
Losar is marked with ancient ceremonies that represent the struggle between good and evil, by chanting, music and dancing, and by whirling and passing fire torches through the crowds. Homes are cleaned and decorated with flour paintings of the sun and moon, and small lamps are lit at night. New clothes are worn, debts and quarrels are resolved, good food is cooked and plenty of liquor is drunk in the run-up to Losar.
Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. Day one is Lama Losar when devout Buddhists honour their dharma teacher. It is also traditional to offer sprouted barley seeds and buckets of tsampa (roasted barley flour with butter) and other grains to ensure a good harvest. People visit friends and greet each other with good wishes of peace and progress. Women will get up very early and after cooking a pot of barley wine for the family, she will sit beside the window to await the sunrise. As the first ray of sunshine of the New Year touches the nearby earth, she takes a bucket and heads for a nearby river, or well, to fetch the year’s first bucket of water, which is seen as the most sacred, clearest water of the coming year. The family that fetches the first bucket of water from the river/the well is believed to be blessed with good luck for the coming year.
The second day of Losar, called Gyalpo or “King’s” Losar, is for honoring local and national leaders. Originally it was a day for kings to hand out gifts at public festivals.
Day three is Choe-kyong Losar when people make special offerings to the dharma protectors. They raise prayer flags from hills, mountains and rooftops and burn juniper leaves and incense as offerings. This ends the spiritual side of Losar, however, the subsequent partying may go on for another 10 to 15 days ending with Chunga Choepa, the Butter Lamp festival.
When is Losar?
The Tibetan calendar is made up of twelve lunar months and Losar begins on the first day of the first month. Losar often falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year (sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference)
Have you experienced Losar in Tibet yourself? If so, please tell us all about it! You can share your pics and videos on our facebook page too! Or if you just want to say hi, or leave a comment for any other reason, we’d love to hear from you.
Food & Drink
On the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (a type of Tibetan beer). A family feast is held with Tab-zan (a special kind of bread) and Dib rug, a dish made by stuffing sheep intestines with barley dough kneaded in sheep’s blood. Another common Losar practice is to make dough balls with objects hidden inside them. The ingredient that is found hidden inside one’s dough ball is supposed to be a lighthearted representation of character. For example, if a person finds a chili, it means he is talkative. If a white-colored ingredient 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 means they have a “black heart”.
Travel to Tibet
Gonggar Airport near the city of Lhasa is the main international airport.
Dates / venues may be subject to change or cancellation. Distances may be straight-line estimates. Please verify information before booking.
Enjoy your trip! And when you’re home we’d love you to come back and tell us all about it!