Tibetan New Year in 2015 begins on February 19 and will last over a period of 15 days.
The Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar, is a traditional and the most significant festival in Tibet. From middle of the 12th month of Tibetan Calender, Tibetan start to prepare Losar. Offerings, air dry and fresh beef and mutton, butter, highland barley should be prepared for Losar to worship and eat. There are a large number of customs in Losar, like pay Losar calls, eat Gutu, shave hair and so on. Losar celebrations are combine religious atmosphere and prayers with special foods and celebrations.
The Tibetan calendar consists of twelve lunar months, and Losar begins on the first day of the first Tibetan month. However, in Tibetan-Buddhist monasteries, the celebrations for Losar begin on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth Tibetan month. That is the day before Losar's Eve. On that day, monasteries do a special kind of ritual in preparation for the Losar celebrations. Also on that day, people make a special kind of noodle called Gutu made of nine different ingredients, including dried cheese and various grains.
In addition, people place various ingredients such as chilies, salt, wool, rice and coal inside dough balls. The ingredients that one finds hidden in one's dough ball are supposed to be a lighthearted comment on one's character, in the spirit of a Chinese fortune cookie.
Dressing up and cleansing
From the 12th month of Tibetan calender, Tibetan are prepared for their new year. Before the new year, every man has to shave hair and every woman should wash their hair and comb braids for good luck and happiness of the next year. A men’s hair is too long or a women do not wash and comb her hair means he or she lives in miserable. From the 28th day in the 12th month of Tibetan calender, every household starts to clean house except ceiling and chimney, which should be clean on lucky days, like the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th.
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Before the New Year, men would ride horse to holy mountains to chop down branches of cypress to home. During the first few days of New Year, people light cypress branches to worship. Women would stay at home to make barley wine, fry food and make cakes. Before the noon of the 30th day of 12th month, every household should take rubbish and weed from home to fields. Rubbish and weeds will be lit on the New Year’s morning. Women should prepare branches or matches to light weeds on the New Year’s morning.
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The 29th day of 12th month of Tibetan calender is the New Year’s Eve in Tibet. New curtain should be used from now on. Cross and some other lucky presented drawings should be drew on doors, beams and kitchens with white chalk. In the evening, the whole family sits around to eat Gutu which is made of paste. Stones, wool, peppers, charcoals, coins and the like will be fillings some pastes. People who eat those things have to spit out in public. Then every people will laugh and discuss for a while. As Tibetan people’s lives are better, some Tibetan will use candy and meat to replace former fillings.
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After the diner, people will use barley flour to make a evil witch and 2 bowls. Put left Gutu and bones to bowls. A woman take bowls and the witch to outside and a man light dry hay, saying demon comes out. Meanwhile, throw bowls and witch in the dry hay. Children will set firecrackers to frighten demon. Without demon, people will have a happiness New Year.
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Losar is the most important festival in Tibet. Except the above customs, there are many other customs in Losar. When harvest, farmers will keep some highland barley which are first-time cut off in that season to worship in Losar. Shepherds will use cows’ first-time milk of they giving birth to calves to make butter for worship in Losar. Man paint houses in white in advance and family, friends and neighbors will take tasty wine to bless. After choosing a fine day, woman will wash wools they made by hand in river and at this time, family, friends and neighbors will take fragrant tea or wine to congratulate they will have new clothes in Losar.
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Pay a Losar call
From the 2nd day of the 1st month of Tibetan calender, people start to pay Losar calls. When meeting, people say Luo SangEr let and Tashi Delek in Tibetan, which mean happy New Year and good luck respectively. Visitors who pay Losar calls bless loud our of door and after hearing voices, male hosts hold “Trima” to welcome and bless visitors. Performances like play lions and jump lights start from he 2nd day of the 1st month of Tibetan calender as well. Pay Losar calls and performances last 3 to 5 days.
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Choi So Trima
From the 30th day of Tibetan last month, “Choi So trima” are served in monasteries, living buddha palaces and the monks’ houses. Choi So is the pronunciation of Tibetan, which means wheat. Trima, made of wheat, butter and zanba, presents good luck and happiness in Tibetan area.
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Tashi Delek - Gook luck and happiness to you!
Luo SangEr let - Happy New Year
Tashi Delek Pongsong Cuo - Good luck and happiness to old man.
Ama Bazhu Kangsum - Wish lady host healthy in New Year.
Dingduo Derwa Tubasho - Wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.
Nanyang Zongju Yubasho - Hope we can get together next year.
Sha Puda - Cheers!
The Origin of Losar
Losar is composed of two characters: Lo, which means "year"; and Sar, which means "new". The celebration of Losar can be traced back to Tibet's pre-Buddhist period. At that time, Tibetans were followers of the Bon religion, and held a spiritual ceremony every winter. During the Bon celebrations, people would burn large quantities of incense on a certain day of the year (not on the lunar new year, as it was not in vogue in Tibet at that time) in order to appease local spirits, deities and protectors.
When Buddhism arrived in Tibet, the older "heathen" ceremony of Bon was simply incorporated into the Buddhist tradition of Tibet, becoming the Buddhist Losar festival. The Buddhist Losar festival originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet.
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