Srijana is in the Himalayas for Tibetan New Year! Festivities begin on the new moon Friday February 16th 2018, and last for several weeks. This year is Tibetan Year 2145, the year of the Earth Dog, which represents loyalty, protection, and friendship.
Losar, the Tibetan New Year celebration, can be traced back to pre-Buddhist times when Tibetans practiced Bön. The Tibetan word Lo means Year, and Sar means Fresh or New. It was an annual spiritual ceremony in which people offered incense to local spirits, deities and protectors. Traditional Tibetan Losar celebrations are observed for for fifteen days with incense, mantras, offerings to monasteries, monks, and lamas, prayers of atonement, as well as visits with relatives and having parties. Tibetan Buddhists mark the festival as a victory of good over evil.
How to Prepare for Losar, Tibetan New Year
To prepare for Losar, in the last days of the old year, people make efforts to pacify troubles and remove negativity from the prior year. During this time, Tibetan monasteries and temples perform special ceremonies to expel negative habits from the old year, so they will not be carried into the New Year. Lamas and monks do a week of rituals, often culminating in lama dances. In private homes, families prepare for the New Year by cleaning and making new clothes.
Clean and whitewash your house. Wash everything completely inside, especially the kitchen.
Replace old prayer flags with new ones
Visit your local monastery, make offerings of incense and prayers to Lamas and spirits. Pay your debts, atone for any misconduct, and resolve all negativity from the past year.
Sew yourself a new set of clothes to wear on New Years Day.
You’ll need a warm fur hat and some heavy coral jewelry.
Make yourself a new pair of yak leather boots to finish your New Years outfit.
You love your yaks, right? (Or Earth dogs) Dress them up in their finest outfits for the occasion.
Create a New Years altar in your home with 7 offering bowls to ask for wealth and abundance. The altar could have incense, butter, a Buddha image, a stupa, fruits, bread, Tsampa, water, flowers, candles and sweets. Offer a white silk scarf or khata to the deities on the altar.
Perform traditional dances in ceremonial masks to dispel evil spirits and make way for a clean fresh start.
Throw roasted barley flour or Tsampa all around for good luck. Set off firecrackers outside the house to scare away any evil spirits.
Enjoy food with friends and family. Eat traditional dishes like Desi – ceremonial sweet rice, Guthuk meat stew with noodles, and Chang – fermented rice beer. Sing and chant traditional mantras. Dance with everybody in the community. At New Years people say: “Losar Bey Tashi Delek”, meaning “Prosperity and Good Will for the New Year”.