March 10, 2023
BEIJING – Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar, is the most important festival in Tibet and is celebrated for 15 days, typically falling in February or March. In 2023, Tibetan New Year fell on Feb 21. This festive season is a time of renewal and optimism, marking the start of the Tibetan lunar calendar. The celebrations include a range of customs and traditions that reflect the unique culture and identity of the Tibetan people.
Before the arrival of the New Year, Tibetans engage in thorough cleaning of their homes and surroundings. This practice is to get rid of any negativity or bad luck that might have accumulated in the previous year. They also make offerings to the gods and ancestors to seek blessings for the upcoming year.
Decorating homes and public places is a common custom during Losar. Houses are adorned with bright and colorful banners and prayer flags, while the streets are lined with lanterns and colorful decorations. In addition, people also decorate their clothes with intricate patterns, and their hair is styled in an intricate fashion.
During the New Year celebrations, Tibetans indulge in rich and delicious feasts with their family and friends. Traditional dishes such as momos, a type of steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables, and Tibetan butter tea, made from yak butter and tea leaves, are served. Sweet treats like Tibetan butter cookies and dried fruit are also enjoyed.
Dancing and Singing
Music and dance are an integral part of the Losar celebrations. Villagers gather in public spaces and dance around bonfires, singing and playing traditional instruments like the Dungchen (a long trumpet), the Gyaling (a double-reed horn) and the Damru (a small drum).
Tibetan people offer prayers and make offerings to the gods and deities during Losar. The offerings typically include food, incense and flowers. These offerings are believed to bring good fortune and blessings to the individuals and community.
The Losar celebrations come to an end with the Chunga Choepa ceremony, a ritualistic offering to appease the local deities. People gather in public spaces and light incense and candles while offering food, drinks and other items to the gods. This is followed by the ritual of throwing Tsampa, a roasted barley flour, into the air as a symbol of letting go of the past year and embracing new beginnings.
The customs of Tibetan New Year are deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the Tibetan people. The Losar celebrations are a time of joy, renewal and reflection, and the customs and traditions associated with this festival reflect the rich history and heritage of this fascinating culture.